IDF Dispatches Reserves to Gaza Border in Second Day of Alert

By Zalman Ahnsaf

Israeli soldiers blocking roads near the border with the Gaza Strip amid threats of a terror attack, Wednesday (Flash90)

YERUSHALAYIM — The IDF deployed up about 100 additional reserve troops in the Gaza border area on Wednesday in the wake of threats from Palestinian Islamic Jihad that it will take revenge for the arrest of its chief operative in Yehuda and Shomron.

In the second day of high alert, the Israeli military said the reserves would be tasked with keeping civilians out of areas considered to be under imminent threat of anti-tank guided missile fire and sniper attacks from the PIJ in Gaza.

On Wednesday evening, the IDF said it will extend the road closures for a third day on Thursday, according to local authorities.

The IDF’s Southern Command and the air defense array were also on high alert for the possibility of rocket fire.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid meanwhile convened the high-level security cabinet to discuss the tensions, his office said.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Lapid received a briefing from top defense officials regarding the situation, and members of the cabinet discussed it as well.

Egyptian mediators held talks Tuesday to de-escalate the security tensions following the arrest of Bassem Saadi, the PIJ leader, late Monday night.

In response to the tense security situation, Israel Railways announced it was halting train service between the southern towns of Ashkelon and Netivot, as well as Sderot.

The Eshkol Regional Council on Wednesday morning told residents living in towns in the Hevel Shalom border area that they should exit via the surrounding fields, not through the main road.

Due to the restrictions, Sapir College in Sderot was holding its classes online.

The military’s handling of the threat was criticized by Yossi Yehoshua, military analyst for Yediot Aharonot, who found it too timid.

“To stop trains and close roads in the south for a short time, if there was a specific warning – and it is doubtful that there was – that is reasonable,” Yehoshua said on social media.

“To drag it out for two days already, when faced with a little terror group in Gaza, because of an arrest (not an elimination) that happened in Jenin – that is already a problem with deterrence.”

“Even if there will be a response in the end, this is still not the behavior of the strongest country in the region,” he added.

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