The Israeli military on Tuesday deployed additional forces to the Gaza Strip border ahead of Palestinian protests amid heightened tensions and growing criticism over the injury of a border policeman who was critically wounded during a border riot over the weekend.
Palestinian groups announced on Monday they intend to march from the Gaza cities of Khan Yunis and Rafah to the border fence with Israel on Wednesday to protest the Israeli blockade on the Palestinian enclave and its attempts to delay the Hamas-ruled territory's reconstruction efforts following an 11-day conflict with the Jewish state that decimated large swathes of Gaza.
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said that "IDF forces will act firmly against terrorist incidents near the fence."
A military source said that the reinforcement will include an armored company and snipers.
The Gaza Division ran a situation assessment, examining various possible scenarios including riots around the perimeter fence, as well as the launch of incendiary balloons and rocket fire into Israeli soil.
Members of the balloon unit were seen on Wednesday threatening to launch explosive-laden balloons into Israel and carrying signs saying "end the blockade" and "if we are to suffer — we won't suffer alone."
Meanwhile, Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayyam reported on Tuesday that Hamas agreed to stop launching incendiary balloons from the Gaza Strip into Israel following talks with Egypt.
Since an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire brought an end to hostilities between Israel and Palestinian terrorist groups, Gaza militants have sporadically sent explosive-laden balloons into Israel which responded by launching airstrikes on Hamas targets in the Palestinian enclave, with the latest attack coming late Monday after Gaza arson balloons caused nine brush fires in southern Israel.
The Israeli Air Force also struck Hamas targets in the central and northern Gaza Strip on Saturday, a few hours after border policeman Barel Hadaria Shmueli was critically wounded at a border riot after he was shot in the head by a Palestinian terrorist from point-blank range.
Shmueli was rushed to Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva where he had to undergo a series of emergency operations.