Israel’s elections are 2 weeks away, and it’s edging towards all-out war with Hamas in Gaza

Israeli soldiers chat next to armoured personnel carriers (APC) near the border with Gaza, in southern Israel March 26, 2019.

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Israeli soldiers chat next to armoured personnel carriers (APC) near the border with Gaza, in southern Israel March 26, 2019.
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Amir Cohen/Reuters

  • Tensions between Israel and Gaza Strip are rising, prompting fears of a full-blown conflict.
  • There have been cross-border strikes after a surprise rocket attack from Gaza destroyed a house in Israel.
  • Meanwhile, Israel is set to hold national elections in two weeks, in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeks to be reelected.

Israel and Gaza are edging toward war this week, with tensions rising to heights perhaps not felt since the days before the 2014 Israel-Hamas conflict.

Tuesday marked the second day rockets fired from Gaza were answered with Israeli airstrikes.

This all comes just two weeks before Israel is set to hold national elections on April 9.

Here’s a look at the contentious situation, which appears to be escalating.

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A rocket was fired into Israel from Gaza Strip, a territory controlled by the Islamic militant group Hamas, on Monday. It destroyed a home and reportedly injured seven people.

Source: NBC News


Israel responded by mobilizing troops at the border with Gaza Strip. It also called up reserves.

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Israeli soldiers chat next to armoured personnel carriers (APC) near the border with Gaza, in southern Israel March 26, 2019.
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Amir Cohen/Reuters

Source: NBC News


Israel also moved up tanks to the border.

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Israeli soldiers stand next to tanks and armoured personnel carrier’s (APC) near the border with Gaza, in southern Israel March 26, 2019.
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Amir Cohen/Reuters

And public bomb shelters have been opened up for Israeli citizens.

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Israeli residents and security personnel gather in a bomb shelter inside a house that was hit earlier, as air-raid siren goes off for incoming rockets from Gaza, in Sderot, Israel March 25, 2019.
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Amir Cohen/Reuters

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut a trip to the US short due to the violence.

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President Trump sees Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu off from the White House in Washington.
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Reuters

Netanyahu was at the White House to watch President Trump formally recognize the Golan Heights, one of the world’s most disputed territories, as part of Israel.

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President Donald Trump smiles at Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as they deliver statements at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 25, 2019.
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Carlos Barria/Reuters

Addressing the rocket launched into Israel from Gaza while standing beside Trump, the Israeli leader said, “Israel will not tolerate this. I will not tolerate this…Israel is responding forcefully to this wanton aggression.”

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President Donald Trump shakes hands with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as they deliver statements at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 25, 2019.
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Carlos Barria/Reuters

As Netanyahu smiled for photos with Trump, Israel’s military on Monday struck Hamas targets in Gaza Strip, and at least seven Palestinians were injured.

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A Palestinian girl cleans the face of her brother outside their destroyed house after an Israeli missile targeted a nearby Hamas site, in Gaza City March 26, 2019.
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Mohammed Salem/Reuters

Source: The Associated Press


The targets Israel struck reportedly included Hamas military intelligence headquarters and the office of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

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Flame and smoke are seen during an Israeli air strike in Gaza City March 25, 2019.
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Suhaib Salem/Reuters

Despite reports of a ceasefire, cross-border strikes continued into Tuesday.

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Palestinians sit with their belongings in a street outside their destroyed house after an Israeli missile targeted a nearby Hamas site, in Gaza City March 26, 2019.
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Mohammed Salem/Reuters

The Palestinian ambassador to the UN on Tuesday said the recent violence is “part of the long-running campaign of violence and terror being waged against our people by Israel.”

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Palestinian boys watch as others inspect a mosque that was damaged in a nearby Israeli air strike in Gaza March 26, 2019.
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Mohammed Salem/Reuters

Source: The Washington Post


The fighting between Israel and Gaza this week comes a little less than two weeks after rockets were fired from Gaza toward Tel Aviv. Israel retaliated amid reports the Hamas rocket was launched by mistake.

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Palestinians pass near the destroyed Hamas site following Israeli air strikes, in Gaza City March 15, 2019.
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Mohammed Salem/Reuters

Source: The New York Times


This also comes after two Palestinians were reportedly killed by Israeli forces during protests at the border last Friday.

Source: Al Jazeera


The last major Israel-Hamas conflict took place in 2014 and lasted 50 days. By the end, over 2,000 Palestinian — many of them civilians — had been killed. 73 Israelis were also killed in the fighting.

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Palestinians gather around the remains of a commercial center, which witnesses said was hit by an Israeli air strike on Saturday, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip August 24, 2014.
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Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

The recent fighting comes roughly two weeks before Israel’s national elections. Netanyahu is running for reelection and has faced criticism from some right-wing figures in Israel who feel he’s not been aggressive enough with Hamas.

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A Likud election campaign billboard, depicting U.S. President Donald Trump shaking hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is seen at a main entrance to Tel Aviv, Israel February 5, 2019.
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Amir Cohen/Reuters

Source: NBC News


As Netanyahu deals with this situation amid an uncertain political future, Hamas in recent days has been clamping down on protests in Gaza against living conditions there. Hamas has responded violently to the dissent, beating and arresting demonstrators.

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Atef Abu Seif, spokesman for Fatah in Gaza and a member of its central committee lies in a hospital bed in Gaza City on March 19, 2019. Abu Seif was badly beaten in the Gaza Strip on March 18, with Fatah accusing the strip’s Islamist rulers Hamas of responsibility. Hamas denied the claim and pledged to investigate the attack, which comes amid days of violent crackdown by its security forces on protests in Gaza.
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Mahmud Hams/Getty Images

Source: The New York Times


Meanwhile, amid the violence in Gaza, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was holding its annual policy conference from Sunday to Tuesday. Netanyahu delivered remarks via satellite, touting the historic partnership between the US and Israel.