The Israeli Government have warned that it is highly likely there will be more terror attack attempts during this month. However, due to the religious sensitivities this month, as a result of the rare overlapping of Ramadan and Passover, there is also a realistic probability that there will be an outbreak of mass violence against Israel by the Palestinian population. Moreover, it is likely that there will be another outbreak of an Israel-Gaza conflict.
Key Judgement 1
There is a realistic probability that there will be an outbreak of mass violence against Israel over the next 3 weeks
- Tensions have been rising between Israelis and Palestinians, due to the recent spate in terrorist incidents in Israel making the last three weeks the deadliest period of terror attacks since 2006. Moreover, the recent killing of 5 Palestinian militants in IDF operations has aggravated resentment toward Israel.
- This month Ramadan and Passover overlap one another, which is a phenomenon that occurs every 30 years. Tensions usually rise during the Ramadan period in Israel. However, this may be intensified by the prospect of Jewish Israelis attempting to enter Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif to pray during the Passover period, due to the banning of Jewish prayer at the shared holy site.
- The loss of the Israel’s coalition government’s majority in the Knesset has left Israel in a politically volatile situation. Right-wing groups may try to exploit this political paralysis by attempting to enter Temple Mount/ Haram al-Sharif to elicit Palestinian aggression, thereby increasing the likelihood of the government’s collapse and strengthening support for nationalist parties.
- Al-Aqsa Mosque’s preacher has publicly stated that Jews “storming” the holy site during Ramadan is an attempt to enforce Israel’s sovereignty over the site. Moreover, Hamas has officially stated “Our Palestinian people will not stand idly by and will defend it by all means”.
- The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has condemned recent terror attacks and has stated that they are attempting to seek stability. However, in September 2021 a poll found that 78% of Palestinians wanted Abbas to resign, indicating his limited influence. Furthermore, 34% believed Hamas deserved to lead and represent Palestinians, compared to only 23% supporting Fatah’s leadership role.
- There has been a decline in Palestinian worshippers attending prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, with 80,000 attending in comparison to the usual number of around 200,000. This may suggest a general unwillingness among Palestinians to risk involvement in violent conflict.
Key Judgement 2
It is likely that there will be an outbreak of hostilities between Gaza and Israel over the next 3 weeks
- Following the 11-day Gaza conflict last year, senior Israeli officers estimated that Hamas still had approximately 8000 rockets and hundreds of rocket launchers, having the capacity to conduct two more wars.
- In a recent interview, Hamas’ political leader, Ismail Haniyeh, declared Hamas’ readiness for war and stated, “If they make any confrontation or go to Al-Aqsa, we will not tolerate this”.
- It was recently reported that Hamas pressured the terror group Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) to abort a limited rocket campaign against Israel. This could indicate that Hamas is seeking to avoid conflict with Israel at this time, or that it is planning for a concerted offensive effort with the PIJ when a ‘suitable’ justification is provided.
- To reduce tensions with the Gazan population and attempt to avert conflict, Israel has announced the approval of 20,000 work permits for Gazans to work within Israel. Nevertheless, it is uncertain whether these measures will overshadow the potential perception of the “desecration” of the shared holy site.
- Iran, as Hamas’ primary sponsor, may encourage or insist that Hamas start another large-scale offensive operation against Israel. This would bring attention to the Israel-Palestine conflict and highlight the ‘betrayal’ of Palestinian cause by Arab states (hostile to Iran) that now publicly cooperate with Israel.