As the violence between the Israeli military and Palestinian militants in Gaza stretched into a fifth day on Saturday, Egyptian-led mediation efforts for a cease-fire were unable to stop the fighting, making this round of clashes among the longest in recent years.
The fighting has remained contained because the militant group, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, has failed to draw in Hamas — the more powerful Islamic militant organization that controls Gaza — or any other major faction. The Islamic Jihad fighters, alone on the battlefield, have suffered crushing blows.
Some experts attribute the stamina of Islamic Jihad — which Israel, the United States and many other Western countries classify as a terrorist organization — to the fact that, unlike Hamas, it does not bear any responsibility for Gaza’s largely impoverished population of more than two million people. Instead, it is focused only on its long-term goal of replacing Israel with an Islamic state.
“It exists just for one…
This article was written by Isabel Kershner and originally published on www.nytimes.com