Hamas’s refusal to negotiate the return of the remaining women still in captivity and an early morning missile attack on Israel brought the ceasefire to an abrupt end on Friday. The Israeli government would have continued to put up with minor infractions by Hamas, and carried on with the deal, despite their repeated violations. However, Hamas’s insistence on drastically changing the terms of the agreement pushed Israel to resume assaults in a sign to Hamas that it refuses to be pushed around. Hamas needed the ceasefire, but miscalculated – thinking that it could push the envelope even more without consequence. It went too far.
Israel’s bombardment of Gaza has been relentless in the two days since. But what happens now? Representatives of the Israeli Mossad – the Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations – left Doha, Qatar, on Saturday, after declaring that negotiations have reached an impasse. Their return signals to Hamas that Israel will not negotiate unless Hamas is serious about a return to the terms of the previous agreement.
Hamas’s attack on Friday indicates that it has managed to retain some of its military capabilities, and that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) still has its work cut out in Gaza. As the war resumed, Israel responded to American concerns by promising the Biden administration that it will take concrete steps to minimise civilian casualties, protect vital infrastructure and avoid mass displacement. With the fighting expanding into southern Gaza, this will prove difficult to achieve. So far, the IDF has been making efforts to inform Palestinians which areas are safe and called on them to evacuate into humanitarian regions within the Gaza Strip. Israel has also allowed humanitarian aid into Gaza through the Rafah crossing.