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Policy Analysis

Policy Notes 54

Neutralizing the Gaza Powder Keg

Michael Herzog and Ghaith al-Omari

Also available in العربية

July 2018

Since the end of March 2018, the Gaza-Israel border has witnessed repeated violent eruptions initiated by Hamas, including challenging the border and causing massive fires in Israel. With ongoing friction for months and scores of Palestinian fatalities, clashes have grown progressively more violent, risking deterioration into yet another Israel-Hamas war.

In this Policy Note, Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Michael Herzog, IDF, and former Palestinian Authority negotiator Ghaith al-Omari offer a new paradigm for addressing this explosive situation. The components include regarding Hamas, with all its flaws, as the responsible governing entity in Gaza and establishing an enduring ceasefire that encompasses fast, effective improvements to the territory's desperate infrastructure. While working through the PA is preferable, this process should potentially bypass it if the PA continues to refuse to shoulder responsibility for the Strip.


MICHAEL HERZOG, a retired brigadier general in the Israel Defense Forces, is the Israel-based Milton Fine International Fellow of The Washington Institute. He is a former head of the Strategic Planning Division in the IDF, a former chief of staff to four former ministers of defense, and in 2009-10 served as special envoy on the peace process.

GHAITH AL-OMARI, a senior fellow in The Washington Institute's Irwin Levy Family Program on the U.S.-Israel Strategic Relationship, is the former executive director of the American Task Force on Palestine. He served as advisor to the negotiating team during the 1999–2001 permanent-status talks in addition to holding various other positions within the Palestinian Authority.