IDF Suspends Drill to Focus on Escalating Palestinian Violence

YERUSHALAYIM (REUTERS/Hamodia) -
Caption Members of the IDF’s 202nd Battalion from the Paratroopers Brigade during military training at the start of a massive drill, in the Golan Heights on Sunday. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)

The Israeli military said on Monday it was suspending for a day a major drill in order to focus efforts on preparing for a possible escalation of violence as tensions simmer with Palestinians in Yerushalayim.

Israel’s armed forces began on Sunday their biggest exercise in 30 years, codenamed “Chariots of Fire.”

But following a situational assessment, Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Aviv Kohavi decided to suspend the exercise for the coming day and has instructed forces “to focus all efforts on preparations and readiness for escalation scenarios,” a military statement said.

In Gaza, a spokesman for the Hamas terror group said the leadership of a joint command of armed movements in the Palestinian enclave had given Israel “an ultimatum until 6 p.m. (1500 GMT)” to withdraw its security forces from Yerushalayim’s al-Aqsa mosque compound and the city’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

Shortly after 6, a volley of 7 rockets were launched at the Yerushalayim area. One was intercepted by Israeli air defense, the others apparently landed in open areas. B’chasdei shamayim, no injuries were reported.

Rockets were also fired at Sderot and other parts of southern Israel.

Earlier on Monday, the IDF sent reinforcements and closed roads in the Gaza Envelope in anticipation of attacks from terrorists in the Hamas-ruled enclave. Farmers were told to stop all work near the border, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Due to the volatile situation, flight paths into Ben-Gurion Airport were changed to descend via the north instead of from over Tel Aviv.

Rail service between Ashkelon and Beersheva and to Sderot, Netivot and Ofakim was suspended as a precaution by security officials.

Additionally, Ashkelon and Kiryat Melachi reportedly decided to open bomb shelters, despite no official order from Home Front Command to do so.