The Israeli army announced Thursday it was significantly boosting its forces in the south, citing its policy to "thwart terrorism and prevent penetration into Israel along the Gaza border fence."
The decision was made after a situation assessment by IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and senior IDF and Shin Bet officials.
The army's decision was made ahead of the expected demonstrations on Friday along the border, out of concern over a possible escalation. The reinforcements will include snipers, infantry and armored forces, which will be deployed along the fence and tasked with thwarting infiltration attempts into Israel.
The army is also preparing for mortar and rocket fire from Gaza at Israeli communities near the border, which could lead to a wider escalation, and therefore is deploying Iron Dome anti-rocket defense systems.
A statement by the IDF Spokesperson Unit added that "the IDF is ready for different scenarios."
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'Hamas doesn't want war'
Hamas’ leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, called for a ceasefire with Israel and said he doesn't want another war, in what appears to be his first-ever interview with an Israeli paper.
“It's in no one’s interest. We cannot prevail in a confrontation against a nuclear power,” he said. “And certainly [another conflict] is not in our interest. War gains nothing.”
“I am not saying I won’t fight anymore, I’m saying I don’t want more wars. I want the siege [on Gaza] to end,” he said, adding that his commitment was to the “interests of my people. To protect them and their right to freedom and independence.”