According to Jerusalem Post observer and former Israeli special forces soldier Yossi Melman, there's plenty of evidence to suggest that the protests on the Palestinian side have been inspired or even financed by Hamas, the de facto governing authority of the Gaza Strip since 2007. Two times this month, he wrote, the prospects of a full-scale war in the border area became a real possibility and were only narrowly avoided.
While the Palestinians and the United Nations General Assembly have accused Israel of using excessive force in responding to the protests, which began as protests promoting the right of Palestinians to return to their homelands in what is now Israeli territory, Tel Aviv has pointed to Hamas's own use of force, including the deployment of arson kites, balloons and condoms filled with helium gas, rockets and mortar shells to cause damage to Israeli crops, nature reserves, and to damage the security fence, Israeli military outposts and other areas.
Unfortunately, the latest ceasefire, including a Hamas pledge not to fly its arson kites, not to launch rockets, and not to send activists across the border, in exchange for a halt in Israeli military operations, will not hold for more than a few weeks, security analysts say.
"This is because the basic problems of Gaza and its two million residents, who have been taken … hostage by Hamas – and to a lesser degree Israel – have remained," Melman wrote. "As long as the two sides do not resolve the basic issues and … stumbling blocks, as long as Gaza will continue to be poor and on the verge of a humanitarian disaster, it will remain a source for war," he warned.
The 2018 Gaza protests, which began on March 30, are estimated to have now led to over 140 deaths and between 14,000 and 15,000 injuries on the Palestinian side, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health. One Israeli soldier has been killed, with six IDF soldiers and five Israeli civilians having received injuries.