IDF Awaits Friday Gaza Riots With Beefed-Up Response

YERUSHALAYIM -
israel gaza
Israeli soldiers and tanks near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip. (Reuters/Amir Cohen)

Friday will be the first test of Israel’s new policy of “zero tolerance” of terror acts at the Gaza border. Large numbers of soldiers and tanks were deployed at the Gaza border fence, awaiting what would happen during the Friday riots sponsored by Hamas.

After a lengthy Security Cabinet meeting Wednesday in the wake of the firing of a Grad rocket at Be’er Sheva overnight Tuesday, the security establishment is prepared to take more aggressive action against Hamas, MKs and ministers said Thursday.

According to reports, the ministers ordered the IDF to “gradually increase” its responses to Gaza border fence rioting, balloon terror, tire burning and the other phenomena that have accompanied the recent increase in Gaza terror. Commenting on the reports, Housing Minister Yoav Galant, a member of the Security Cabinet, said that he could not discuss details, “but I can say that the rules are about to change.” Speaking at a conference of builders in Eilat, Galant said that Israel “will no longer tolerate the balloon terror and fence terror it has been subjected to.”

If the events of Thursday night were any indication of what is to come, Friday could be a very active day in the Gaza area.

Hundreds of terrorists rioted along the border fence, throwing rocks and firebombs at Israeli positions. Hamas on Thursday issued a general call for Gazans to riot at the fence on Friday, and the terror group released videos of what it said were advanced rockets with large amounts of explosives. The IDF sent its own messages to Hamas, warning the terror group to restrain itself.

The Airports Authority on Thursday announced that it was changing the air routes of flights entering Israel in order to avoid southern Israel. The Authority said that the change would not cause any delays or other problems.

Writing in the Jerusalem Post Friday, U.S. envoy Jason Greenblatt urged Hamas to restrain itself. “Hamas must realize that the world has passed it by. The civilized world does not accept violence and terrorism as a legitimate form of resistance. Hamas must renounce these tactics and admit that Gaza needs help it cannot provide. It needs the Palestinian Authority (working with countries willing to help) to establish strong institutions and provide services to the populace. Gaza needs international engagement and support to keep the lights on and to bring safe drinking water, and it needs the United States to help Palestinians and Israelis find a way to achieve a comprehensive and lasting peace.

“Palestinians in Gaza have suffered growing hardship and poverty since Hamas seized power. If Hamas no longer wants to be regarded as an armed terrorist organization, we and others around the world have made it clear what Hamas’s next steps must be: renounce violence, recognize Israel, and accept previous agreements,” Greenblatt added.