Additional special forces were deployed in Gaza border communities Wednesday to foil possible infiltration attempts from the Gaza Strip, and IDF spokesperson said.
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Speaking with reporters, Brig. Gen. Hidai Zilberman said Islamic Jihad continued to try to challenge Israel’s ground defenses with rockets and other means, adding that there would also be some reinforcement of regular forces.
Zilberman said restrictions on civilians were relaxed Wednesday to avoid paralyzing Israel for days. On Wednesday the Home Front Command announced a return to normal in communities north of Rehovot. On Tuesday, schools in Greater Tel Aviv were closed and “nonessential” workplaces were told to close.
The last time such an order was issued for the Tel Aviv area was in January 1991, during the Gulf War.
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“We were preparing for the reasonable possibility of dozens of rockets being fired at Greater Tel Aviv,” Zilberman said. “We took the security precautions that we felt were reasonable. We did not go to the worst-case scenario.” He added that the deployment of the Iron Dome anti-missile system was better Wednesday than it was Tuesday.
Zilberman said he expected Islamic Jihad to continue “moderate” rocket fire on different areas and at varying intensities. He says the army believes the Islamic Jihad leadership has recovered from the blow of Baha Abu al-Ata’s death and that its rocket fire Wednesday was more organized.
He said the Israel Defense Forces has refrained from strikes on Hamas, which is not involved in the rocket fire, and on the Gaza Strip’s civilian population.
“We understand that we are on something of a tightrope, and we don’t want to create ... many noncombatant casualties that could bring Hamas into the fighting. ... We are dealing with each organization separately, so Hamas and Islamic Jihad will understand who we are seriously fighting and who is sabotaging the efforts to reach an accord.”