IDF boosts presence in south based on terror warnings
The Israel Defense Forces has significantly bolstered its forces along the border with Egypt, the Gulf of Eilat and near the Gaza Strip as a result of solid intelligence that militants belonging to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group are planning an attack in southern Israel. The warning has been described as "real."
Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz ordered the bolstering of forces Sunday night along the southern border, following intelligence of a plan by Palestinian Islamist militants to carry out an attack similar to the one ten days ago north of Eilat, in which eight Israelis were killed.
Both highways that run along the border with Egypt, Routes 10 and 12, have been closed to civilian traffic, and intelligence-gathering and mobile observation means have been deployed.
Defensive preparations are also being made to counter a scenario which sees militants attacking from the Gaza Strip via a tunnel, as well as the firing of rockets against Eilat and other Israeli communities in the Negev.
It is unusual that the media has been informed of the existence of such intelligence, and it appears that the aim is to let the Palestinian militants know that their plans have been uncovered.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak commented on the security warning during a visit to the ELTA Systems plant where the radar system for the missile interceptor Iron Dome is being manufactured.
"Also this morning we are on high alert in the south, against a possible attack, similar in part to the attack which occurred 10 days ago," Barak said. "Readiness is very high. We are determined to strike at those carrying out the attacks, to take action as much as possible to intercept the attack and we are reiterating that responsibility stems from the Gaza Strip. It is not just Islamic Jihad but also Hamas."
The IDF also boosted its naval presence in the Gulf of Eilat. The advance missile boats Hanit and Eilat were recently anchored at port, and the navy is operating in the Red Sea in order to avert attacks from the sea and block shipments of arms for Hamas from Iran, through Sudan and Sinai.