Israel approves 'escalated use of force' against besieged Gaza
The Israeli security cabinet on Monday authorised a stronger use of military force should if rockets are launched from the strip in the coming days, the Israeli daily said.
Insiders told Haaretz that while a "full-blown military operation" was not being considered, Israel wants to escalate its use of force on Gaza if more rockets are fired.
The security cabinet approved the measures ahead of time for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Benny Gantz to command a strike.
This means a subsequent cabinet meeting next Monday would not be necessary.
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According to Haaretz, some in the cabinet feel such an escalation in Gaza would benefit Hamas.
It follows tensions in East Jerusalem, where violence Israeli far-right and police have assaulted Palestinians in the area.
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Last Thursday, a Jewish supremacist group called Lehava organised a march during where activists roamed through the occupied sector of Jerusalem chanting, "Death to Arabs!"
Israel also has also closed Gaza's waters to fishing boats this week, causing further anger against Israel.
Previous restrictions placed on Gaza's fishing industry in 2019 were described to Al Jazeera by Israeli human rights group Gisha's Miriam Marmur as "illegal collective punishment".
Past Israeli attacks on Gaza have faced also significant criticism, especially concerning deadly attacks on protesters during Gaza's Great Return March in 2018 and 2019.
Eric Goldstein, Human Rights Watch’s deputy Middle East director, said "Israeli soldiers were not merely using excessive force... but were apparently acting on orders that all but ensured a blood military response to the Palestinian demonstrations".
When Goldstein's statements were published, 14 protesters had died and hundreds were injured.
By the time the demonstrations were suspended in December 2019, 348 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli fire, most during protests, according to AFP figures.
In an article for The New Arab in 2018, Daoud Kuttab said, "Israel's policy of 'deterrence' is indistinguishable from collective punishment".