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Tensions rise in southern Israel
Photo: AFP
Uncertainty among Israelis residing on Gaza border
Israelis residing near Gaza perimeter anxious in wake of recent terror tunnel demolition, subsequent threats of retaliation by Palestinian terrorist organizations; while attempting to return to normalcy, residents were instructed to not come near border fence; 'It's been quiet since Protective Edge, and I hope it stays that way,' professes one resident.

Israelis living close to the Gaza border are following recent developments in the strip with some wariness, as they receive new security instructions almost daily in the wake of the demolition of a terror tunnel by the IDF two weeks ago in the Kissufim region, the ensuing threats of retaliation made by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and counter-warnings from the Israeli army.

 

 

"There has been a very tense atmosphere since the tunnel was blown up. We're very concerned and are still unsure where events will lead. We hope the quiet is maintained," Netiv HaAsara resident Yifat Ben Shoshan told Ynet.

 

"Personally I've been following reports intently. While there have been no specific instructions given to our community and life has been carrying on as usual, anxiety is absolutely heightened around here," she added.


Iron Dome batteries have been deployed in Israel's central and southern regions (Photo: EPA)
Iron Dome batteries have been deployed in Israel's central and southern regions (Photo: EPA)
  

Israelis residing on Gaza's perimeter have been instructed by the IDF to not congregate or traverse higher ground near the border fence so as not to create "targets" for the terrorist organizations. Daily situation assessments take place in the communities, which maintain in constant communication with the IDF.

 

Heightened anxiety notwithstanding, the IDF has yet to provide any special defensive instruction to surrounding towns, and agricultural work along the border carries on as usual—albeit in constant coordination with the army.

 

Farmers in communities around Gaza resumed agricultural works (Photo: Barel Efraim)
Farmers in communities around Gaza resumed agricultural works (Photo: Barel Efraim)

 

Despite relative normalcy, readiness is maintained in light of PIJ threats.

 

"There are no special instructions, but it's clear to everyone it's best to avoid going near the fence during a time like this. While residents are very tense in light of recent developments, daily routine remains unchanged and so things are calming down as time elapses," said a civilian security officer at one the towns around Gaza.

 

Tensions have also been felt in nearby Sderot. "I'm not taking any chances. I closed the window in my house's safe room, where my two boys sleep. Who knows what can happen during the night," said Sderot resident Ron Elitov.

 

"Generally speaking, the general mood is fine, but it comes and goes. I heard they deployed the Iron Dome and raised alertness, and that's a little worrying. I really hope we aren't dragged to escalation. It's been quiet since (Operation) Protective Edge, and I hope it stays that way," Elitov wished.

 

Work on the subterranean barrier has resumed with close army monitoring (Photo: EPA)
Work on the subterranean barrier has resumed with close army monitoring (Photo: EPA)

 

In light of recent security tensions, the Security Cabinet approved widespread deployment of Iron Dome batteries in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area and other regions as part of preparation for a possible Islamic Jihad retaliation.

 

It was further decided to communicate unequivocal message to both PIJ and Hamas, stating in no uncertain terms Israel would strike back severely at any violation. The messages were carried publically, though Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai as well as international players, including Egypt.

 

Rising tensions also caused the closure of three tourist sites near the Gaza Strip—Givat HaPa'amonim, Givat Nizmit and the Black Arrow Memorial—following a situation assessment held at the army's Gaza Division.

 

Chief of Staff Eisenkot said IDF faces 'wide range of threats' (Photo: Avi Moalem)
Chief of Staff Eisenkot said IDF faces 'wide range of threats' (Photo: Avi Moalem)

 

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot consequently said, "Today's reality forces us to face down the different challenges. IDF faces a wide range of threats, both near and far."

 

The London-based Arab newspaper Al-Hayat reported Tuesday that the Iranian-backed PIJ organization has upped its readiness to its highest level as the IDF was holding a drill in the Gaza border area this week, and that it is closely monitoring Israeli citizens living in Gaza-bordering communities using binoculars and photo-taking technology. Al-Hayat's sources further added that Islamic Jihad's surveillance includes monitoring vehicular traffic.

 

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