Israeli Army Deploys Iron Dome in Tel Aviv Area as Gaza Tensions Simmer

High alert continues in face of Islamic Jihad threat to retaliate for tunnel strike that killed 12 of Gazan organization's militants

Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich
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An Iron Dome battery in central Israel earlier this month.
An Iron Dome battery in central Israel earlier this month.Credit: Ilan Assayag
Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich

The military is maintaining its high alert against an anticipated Islamic Jihad attempt to retaliate for the army’s blowing up of an attack tunnel at the Gaza border two weeks ago, which killed 12 Islamic Jihad operatives in the process.

On Tuesday it was permitted to report that the army had deployed the Iron Dome system in the Tel Aviv area as part of its preparations. Military Intelligence believes Islamic Jihad is determined to conduct some sort of revenge attack.

The Israel Defense Forces decided to close three sites near the Gaza border fence to tourists in a effort to prevent sniper attacks. In addition, after allowing farmers to work in their fields near the perimeter fence, it was decided to change the guidelines and assign each individual farmer a time for working the fields and the exact areas he is permitted to enter.

One of the assessments is Islamic Jihad’s inability to launch an attack from the West Bank will lead them to try one from Gaza. Apparently the group wants to show that it’s responding to the tunnel destruction, the response will be measured so as not to harm the ongoing reconciliation process between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

On Saturday the coordinator of government activities in the territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, issued a video message in Arabic, warning that Islamic Jihad “is playing with fire on the backs of residents of the Gaza Strip, and at the expense of the internal Palestinian reconciliation and the entire region.”

He added, “Israel will respond forcefully and resolutely to any Islamic Jihad reaction whatsoever – not just against Jihad, but also against Hamas,” and he advised the Islamic Jihad leadership in Damascus to rein in its operatives in Gaza. Islamic Jihad responded by saying that Mordechai’s threats amounted to a declaration of war.

The decision to deploy the Iron Dome batteries in the center of the country may not be strictly to guard against an Islamic Jihad attack, but be part of a plan to ready for a wider escalation – if there are large-scale military exchanges with Gaza, there could be trouble on other fronts as well.

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