Using the discharge of incendiary devices across the wall that hems in the Gaza Strip against the Mediterranean Sea as justification, Israel, under new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, launched a series of airstrikes in the besieged coastal enclave on Tuesday night. Since Gaza was pulverized by an 11-day-long Israeli bombardment in May, fears had been growing that this scenario, or one similar to it, would play out should the fragile ceasefire reached between Hamas and Israel crack, if the latter does not address the state of siege in Gaza and the grievances brought about by its occupation of the West Bank.
Tuesday night’s hostilities served as a reminder that the cause of the May conflict is far from settled. The looming expulsion of several Palestinian families from their homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah—to make way for Israeli settlers—became the spark that ignited the Israeli bombardment of Gaza last month and saw rockets lobbed on Israeli cities, leaving 256 and citizens and residents of Israel dead.
And now, those families inch closer to the crucial date of July 20, when the Israeli Supreme Court will hold a hearing and possibly issue a ruling determining the fate of these families. The Israeli Supreme Court had delayed a decision on the expulsion in mid-May just after the hostilities commenced.
Tensions eased after the May 20 ceasefire, but things are once again heating up in the occupied territories. Gaza’s residents lived through another night of terror on Tuesday after helium balloons carrying incendiary devices were floated onto Israeli territory. This came after the “Flag Day” march by far-right Israeli groups, postponed several times due to tensions, was allowed to move forward by the new coalition government. Israeli police cleared Damascus Gate and nearby areas of Palestinians to allow the flag-waving parade to take place.
The shaky ceasefire was already put to the test last week, in Sheikh Jarrah, when Israeli police shot a 16-year-old Palestinian girl in the back with a sponge-tipped bullet. of the incident shows her going into the courtyard of her home when she is struck, the incident leaving her bedridden with a fractured spine.
Meanwhile, prominent journalists and activists from the neighborhood are being systematically arrested by authorities. Palestinian twins Mohammed and Muna El-Kurd, 23, who have become impromptu spokespeople for the families facing eviction in Sheikh Jarrah, were also detained and interrogated by Israeli authorities before being released. A day earlier, a reporter for the Qatari Al Jazeera news channel was detained and beaten. She was released several hours after her arrest with a and a 15-day ban from the neighborhood.
“What makes Sheikh Jarrah significant is the length of this story,” said Mohammed El-Kurd. “We’ve been in this so-called legal battle since 1972, and during that period, Israeli settler organizations not only have harassed and bullied us but also colluded with the Israeli government to intimidate us.”