Iron Dome deployed in center of country
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. •