Iron Dome de­ployed in cen­ter of coun­try

Jerusalem Post - - FRONT PAGE - • By TOVAH LAZAROFF

The Iron Dome air de­fense sys­tem has been de­ployed in the cen­ter of the coun­try, the IDF con­firmed on Mon­day night, in the af­ter­math of a pub­lic war of words be­tween Is­rael and Is­lamic Ji­had in Gaza.

Ten­sions have been high in re­gard to Gaza since the IDF blew up an at­tack tun­nel built by Is­lamic Ji­had un­der Is­rael’s ter­ri­tory on the south­ern bor­der. Ten mem­bers of the group and an­other two ter­ror­ists were killed in that ex­plo­sion.

Is­rael is still hold­ing five of the bod­ies.

Ac­cord­ing to Chan­nel 2, the IDF has in­creased its se­cu­rity around its bar­rier with Gaza. Is­rael has been im­prov­ing se­cu­rity along the south­ern bor­der to pre­vent tun­nel war­fare, in­clud­ing dig­ging a bar­rier deep into the ground.

The IDF ar­rested Is­lamic Ji­had leader Tariq Qa’adan in the West Bank early Mon­day morn­ing, an IDF spokesper­son said in a state­ment.

Is­lamic Ji­had slammed Is­rael for ar­rest­ing Qa’adan,

say­ing in a state­ment, “This un­just ar­rest of the leader Qa’adan is a part of the oc­cu­pa­tion’s lat­est es­ca­la­tion against Is­lamic Ji­had and our peo­ple,” ac­cord­ing to Pales­tine To­day, a news site linked to the group. Qa’adan was held by Is­rael un­der ad­min­is­tra­tive de­ten­tion in 2013, but was ul­ti­mately set free af­ter car­ry­ing out a three-month hunger strike. Qa’adan’s ar­rest came a day af­ter Is­lamic Ji­had called Is­raeli threats against its lead­er­ship “a dec­la­ra­tion of war.”

“Threats to tar­get the move­ment’s lead­er­ship is a dec­la­ra­tion of war, which we will con­front,” Is­lamic Ji­had said on Sun­day, ac­cord­ing to Pales­tine To­day.

On Sat­ur­day, Co­or­di­na­tor of Gov­ern­ment Ac­tiv­i­ties in the Ter­ri­to­ries Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, who over­sees the branch of the De­fense Min­istry re­spon­si­ble for li­ais­ing with the Pales­tini­ans on civil and se­cu­rity is­sues, warned Is­lamic Ji­had against re­spond­ing to Is­rael’s de­mo­li­tion of the tun­nel.

Speak­ing in Ara­bic on a video posted on Face­book, Mordechai said Ra­madan Sha­lah and Ziad Nakhala, Is­lamic Ji­had’s lead­ers in Da­m­as­cus, would bear re­spon­si­bil­ity for any re­sponse taken by Is­lamic Ji­had against Is­rael.

Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu warned on Sun­day that the IDF would act harshly against any vi­o­lence from Gaza, and that Is­rael would hold Ha­mas re­spon­si­ble for any ac­tions against it, in­clud­ing ac­tions by Is­lamic Ji­had.

There is some spec­u­la­tion, how­ever, that in spite of the ex­change of threats, Is­lamic Ji­had is not seek­ing a vi­o­lent en­gage­ment with Is­rael at this time.

The in­creased ten­sion comes as Fatah and Ha­mas have en­tered into a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion agree­ment de­signed to end the decade of en­mity be­tween them and to al­low Fatah to re­gain con­trol of the Gaza Strip.

Adam Ras­gon con­trib­uted to this re­port. •

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