Violent Escalation in the Gaza Strip

Unrest in the Gaza Strip is increasing. Over the past three weeks, terrorists have sought to kill both Israelis and Palestinians—including Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. Over the past few days, Gaza’s terrorist regime Hamas has conducted large-scale, live-fire military exercises and is working to galvanize mass, potentially violent demonstrations on March 30. The United States must continue to support Israel’s right to defend itself and press for the resumption of PA control in Gaza.


On March 25 and 26, Hamas mounted a large-scale, live-fire military exercise in the Gaza Strip—its largest show of force in years. (AP/Khalil Hamra)

Gaza has witnessed multiple terrorist attacks in recent weeks.

  • On March 24, four Palestinians carrying homemade explosives crossed into Israel from Gaza. The individuals attempted to set fire to an Israeli military vehicle before fleeing back to Gaza. Three days later, three Palestinians armed with grenades and knives were caught after crossing into Israel.
  • On March 17, terrorists detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) near the Gaza-Israel border fence—the fourth IED attack since February targeting Israeli soldiers stationed in the area.
  • On March 13, terrorists targeted a convoy carrying PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in a failed bombing attack. PA President Mahmoud Abbas accused Hamas of orchestrating the attack.

The potential for more violence is growing.

  • Hamas is calling for thousands of Palestinians to march to the border with Israel and erect tent cities for a six-week protest beginning on March 30. Israel fears this will further escalate tensions in the lead up to the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding on May 14.
  • Hamas has cynically used demonstrators in the past as human shields to mask the transport and planting of explosives and other terrorist equipment.
  • On March 25 and 26, Hamas mounted a large-scale, live-fire military exercise in the Gaza Strip—its largest show of force in years. According to reports, 30,000 Hamas members participated in the drill.
  • Israel has successfully uncovered and destroyed multiple Hamas terror tunnels in the past six months. Israeli defense officials are concerned that Hamas may use any remaining tunnels to attack Israel.
  • Tensions between Hamas and the PA over internal Palestinian reconciliation efforts have exacerbated the dire humanitarian and environmental situation in Gaza, and could lead to more violence. The PA has cut salaries to employees and threatened to cut payments for electricity supplied to the territory.

Israel and the United States are working to reduce tensions.

  • Despite increased violence, Israel continues to take concrete steps to improve Palestinian lives in Gaza, including projects to improve water, sanitation, electricity, communications and more.
  • Israel has deployed significant forces along the Gaza periphery to prepare for potential violence sparked by the Hamas-planned demonstrations. These forces have been specially trained to deal with mass disturbances.
  • The United States continues to provide significant funding for humanitarian aid projects in Gaza. On March 13, the Trump administration hosted a Gaza conference to discuss solutions to the humanitarian and economic conditions there. The conference was attended by representatives from 20 countries, including Israel and multiple Arab nations.
  • The United States must continue to support Israel’s right to defend itself and press for the resumption of PA control in Gaza.