Mideast Daily News

Israel Raises Alert Level Amid Tensions With Islamic Jihad

By Charles Bybelezer | The Media Line

November 14, 2017

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The Israel Defense Forces has raised its alert level and deployed an Iron Dome anti-missile defense battery to the center of the country amid a war of words with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group. The tensions stem from the IDF’s controlled demolition earlier this month of a subterranean attack tunnel running from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory, an operation which killed ten members of Islamic Jihad (IJ) along with two Hamas fighters. Thereafter, the military announced that it had recovered the remains of five IJ operatives, which are being withheld given that Hamas has refused to hand over the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza during the 2014 war as well as return three Israeli civilian captives who crossed into the Palestinian enclave on their own accord. The Israeli army has since also beefed up its presence along the border with Gaza and on Monday arrested the leader of Islamic Jihad in the West Bank; this, as the Palestinian organization continues to threaten Israel with retaliation while increasing its state of readiness to the “highest level.” Over the weekend, IDF Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the head of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories—the body that oversees Israeli coordination with the Palestinians in the West Bank—warned IJ not to test the army’s resolve and accused the terror group of “playing with fire.” Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu likewise cautioned that the military “will respond with a heavy hand to anyone who tries to attack it from any front.” Analysts believe that while Islamic Jihad is planning an attack, Hamas—the major power in Gaza—is reining in its counterpart over fears that any instability in the Strip might jeopardize the unity agreement recently signed with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction.

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