Twisted logic’: Israel punishing Islamic Jihad for ’not retaliating’ to leader’s arrest

| Middle East Eye |

The timing and manner in which this Israeli operation has come about is odd, veteran Israeli analyst Meron Rapoport tells Middle East Eye.

’This is undoubtedly one of the strangest events,’ he said.

’Israel arrests a senior member of Islamic Jihad in the West Bank, the group does not respond,’ Rapoport continued, referring to the arrest of Bassam al-Saadi earlier this week in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.

But then, ’Israel puts tens of thousands of residents in the areas adjacent to Gaza under curfew on the grounds that Islamic Jihad is planning a response, then kills senior members of the group in Gaza, as well as civilians, on the grounds that they planned to attack Israel’.

The analyst noted that Israel was essentially punishing the Islamic Jihad group for not attacking in retaliation to Saadi’s arrest, given that the group only launched rockets after Israel launched air strikes on Gaza.

’[Israeli Defence Minister Benny] Gantz said this evening ’they cannot threaten Israel’. Then, after the action that came ostensibly to prevent shooting at Israel, Islamic Jihad ends up firing [rockets] at Israel, and hundreds of thousands of people in southern Israel enter protected rooms or shelters,’ he said.

’The bottom line is, after Israel allegedly tried to prevent Islamic Jihad attacks, it is now receiving rockets that apparently would not have happened if Israel did not attack first.’

Following the Israeli air strikes that killed at least 10 Palestinians, including senior Islamic Jihad commander Taiseer al-Jabari, the group said it fired 100 rockets first as an initial response late on Friday.

’So what is behind this twisted logic?’ asked Rapoport.

’One possibility is that [Prime Minister Yair] Lapid wants to establish his position as a ’strong’ prime minister, less than three months before the general elections, while the [opposition] Benjamin Netanyahu bloc is gaining strength in the polls.’