'Conflict likely to continue as Israel will fear looking weak after rocket strike,' says analyst

13 May 2021, 18:37

Middle East analyst explains why Israel-Gaza conflict could escalate

By Fiona Jones

Middle East analyst Michael Stephens explains to LBC why there are "a lot of signs" the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will escalate further.

Palestinian militants in Gaza have fired around 1000 rockets at Israel after air strikes killed their senior military figures during another night of escalating violence.

Dozens have died in the most severe outbreak of violence since the 50-day war in 2014, with no resolution in sight and both sides talking up the prospect of a full-scale conflict.

The death toll in Gaza rose to 69 Palestinians by Thursday morning, including 16 children and six women, according to the territory's health ministry.

Middle East analyst Michael Stephens said there is more chance of the situation escalating than deescalating: "Both Hamas and Israel don't seem to be backing down. You alluded to the casualty count, it just keeps going up. Every time that happens, both leaders in Israel and Hamas are under pressure to respond and not appearing to back down and looking weak."

He told LBC there is "one chance" the conflict may lessen: "There's been an outbreak of violence inside Israel between Israeli-Arab citizens and Israeli-Jewish citizens. That has shocked a lot of people and a lot of politicians are now calling for calm and restraint."

Stun grenades interrupt report on Jerusalem violence

Reporter Bel Trew in Lod, Israel, was present for this internal fighting on Wednesday and had to don bulletproof protection while live on air.

"To some extent, you can say that law and order broke down in Israel yesterday and it was pretty shocking," Mr Stephens said, pointing out that the conflict between Israeli-Arabs and Israeli-Jews may cause people to question whether it is "worth it."

He continued that the fate of the clash is "in the balance" because "if Hamas want to fire more rockets tonight, I just can't see how an operation isn't going to happen."

He said that having followed the conflict for decades, "I can't recall a period in which 1000 rockets in one day were fired into Israel. If it was maybe tens of rockets, you could have had a deescalation and both sides could have stepped away...but the volume of rockets make Israel look like it's weak.

"From a defence perspective I don't think politically it's viable for Israel to do nothing and also from a strategic perspective."

Israeli Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely is taking listeners' calls live on LBC from 8pm - you can watch it here for the latest update.

More Tom Swarbrick

See more More Tom Swarbrick

A sister has described the moment she punched a crocodile to save her sister.

'I wasn't going to leave her behind': Twin recalls punching crocodile to save sister

Susan Hall has dismissed Ed Miliband's claim that she would be an 'embarrassment' to Britain as the next London mayor.

Susan Hall dismisses as 'nonsense’ after Ed Miliband said she would be an ‘embarrassment’ as London Mayor

UK should prepare for 'something close to war', Nato's deputy tells LBC, amid warning members have 'neglected defence'

UK should prepare for 'something close to war', Nato's Deputy General tells LBC, as he warns Russia 'cannot be trusted'

Emma Webber (left) speaking to LBC

Mother of Nottingham attack victim Barnaby Webber blasts police ‘mistruths’ after force is put in special measures

Lord Harrington said there should be a cap on the number of asylum seekers the UK takes.

Former refugees minister Lord Harrington calls for a cap on the number of asylum seekers the UK takes

Mel Stride has backed the PM

Rishi Sunak has 'absolutely not' betrayed nation over Rwanda plan, insists minister after Braverman's attack on PM

Tom and caller

'Our family is there': Mother shares heartbreaking experience of being a British Jew during Israel-Hamas conflict

The ban will be brought into effect in months

'Children should be in the classroom to learn': Gillian Keegan orders 'blanket ban' of mobile phones in schools

Tributes have been paid to Elianne after she was stabbed to death in Croydon

Fellow pupil of schoolgirl stabbed to death in Croydon describes heartbreaking moment students were told of her killing

Scotland's first safe drug consumption space set to be openned

'Isn't this just decriminalising heroin?': Tom Swarbrick questions Labour MSP over first safe drug consumption room

The education secretary discusses educational reforms with Tom Swarbrick

Shadow education secretary says 'Building Schools for the Future Programme' would have prevented Raac crisis

Tom Swabrick

'Is it not completely mental?': Tom Swarbrick astonished as schools shut due to crumble-risk concrete before new term

Exam results

Equation sheets given to GCSE cohort in attempt lessen reduced grade inflation blow, schools minister says

Crime commentator on Adam Provan

Internal review of rapist ex-Met officer is the equivalent of 'marking your own homework', says crime commentator

Education Secretary discuss new Eton free schools on LBC

‘Bailed out by Eton’: Education Secretary discusses new free schools with Tom Swarbrick

Lucy Letby: We have to know what went so 'catastrophically wrong' says Tom Swarbrick

Lucy Letby: We have to know what went so 'catastrophically wrong' says Tom Swarbrick