IDF Beefs Up Gaza Border Presence In Wake Of Security Assessment
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot ordered reinforcements to be sent to the Gaza border Thursday and remain there for the coming days following a security situation assessment which included commanders from the IDF and the Israeli Security Agency (Shin Bet).
“The Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and senior IDF & ISA (Israel Security Agency) officials decided to implement wide-scale reinforcements in the Southern Command and to continue acting to thwart terror and infiltrations from Gaza,” the IDF Spokesperson said in a statement, adding that it holds Hamas as “responsible for Gaza and all that emanates from it.”
Last Friday, seven Palestinians were killed in clashes with IDF troops as 20,000 people held violent demonstrations along the border. The incident followed two months of relative quiet and the breakdown of Egyptian mediated efforts to reach a understanding between Israel and Hamas on the rehabilitation of Gaza and a long-term ceasefire.
Earlier on Thursday, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz accused Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) of attempting to drag both sides in Gaza into war by perpetuating the humanitarian crisis in the Strip.
“The objective of Abu Mazen and the Palestinian Authority is clear,” Steinitz told Army Radio, “Abu Mazen is trying to instigate a war in Gaza and and is stopping the flow of electricity and water in order to make everything blow up in Israel’s face,” he said.
“We must put an effort into preventing Abu Mazen from maneuvering us into a war,” Steinitz continued, “if Abu Mazen on one side and the Iranians on the other side are interested in causing an escalation in Gaza, we must act in order to prevent that.”
On Thursday morning, Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth daily published an interview with Hamas military leader Yahya Sinwar, in which he said that Hamas is not interested in another war with Israel.
“A new war is in no one’s interest,” said Sinwar, “who has the will to challenge a nuclear superpower with four slingshots? War will not achieve anything,” he stated, adding that while he has no plans to lay down his arms, ending the blockade on Gaza is his top priority.
Responding to Sinwar’s statements, Steinitz said: “I would take his words, by which he is no longer interested in war, with a grain of salt. His objective is still to destroy the State of Israel.”