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Photo: Avihu Shapira
IDF Chief of Staff Eisenkot
Photo: Avihu Shapira
IDF chief: 'Palestinian arena is highly explosive'
Eisenkot says army must remain constantly vigilant as it is facing the many developing threats in the region; 'We are required to act with determination and might,' he adds.

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot cautioned Monday that "the Palestinian arena is highly explosive, which requires us to remain constantly vigilant."

 

 

Tensions have been on the rise on the Gaza border after Hamas held a large-scale military exercise on Sunday and machinegun fire from the strip triggered the Iron Dome missile defense system.

 

In addition, Hamas is planning a mass march of Palestinians in Gaza towards the border with Israel and protests starting this Friday, Land Day, and ending on May 15, Nakba Day.

 

IDF Chief of Staff Eisenkot (Photo: Yair Sagi)
IDF Chief of Staff Eisenkot (Photo: Yair Sagi)

"Each and every generation of the country's protectors had to continue fulfilling the mission of its predecessor—for the present generation and the future generation, which will follow in its path," the IDF chief continued in a speech at a ceremony recognizing excelling officers and non-commissioned officers (NCO).

 

"Seventy years have passed and the IDF has turned from a young army taking shape in the storm of battles to an army that is ready, fit and powerful," Eisenkot added.

 

"Even at this time, we are facing many challenges. And when facing the threats developing in the changing strategic environment, we are required to act with determination and might," he concluded.

 

The IDF chief at ceremony recognizing excelling officers and NCOs (Photo: Roee Idan)
The IDF chief at ceremony recognizing excelling officers and NCOs (Photo: Roee Idan)

 

Hamas's military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, launched a large-scale military exercise in the Gaza Strip on Sunday morning, which lasted until Monday morning.

 

The exercise incorporated several replicas of the Israeli-made Merkava tanks to simulate IDF forces. Eye-witnesses in Gaza said Hamas launched at least one rocket into the sea as part of the exercise.

 

Hamas launches rocket toward the sea in large-scale military exercise (Photo: AFP)
Hamas launches rocket toward the sea in large-scale military exercise (Photo: AFP)
 

On Sunday evening, multiple Code Red false alarms were blasted in the Hof Ashkelon and Sha'ar HaNegev Regional Councils and in the southern city of Sderot as the Iron Dome missile defense system mistook bullets from the Gaza Strip for a fusillade of rockets.

 

The regional councils originally reported that Iron Dome was said to have intercepted every rocket. However, the IDF later confirmed that no salvo had been fired at Israel.

 

An Israel Air Force inquiry Monday found that neither human nor technical errors were responsible for triggering the Iron Dome missile-defense system against machinegun fire from Gaza, and the salvo was the result of simple risk aversion.

 

Hamas conducts large-scale military exercise (Photo: Reuters)
Hamas conducts large-scale military exercise (Photo: Reuters)

 

"There was system oversensitivity, and we had five seconds to decide. We don't take chances in situations with even the slightest potential of harming either civilians or property," said Brig.-Gen. Zvika Haimovich, the commander of the IAF's air defense systems.

 

The IDF's Gaza Division is also making preparations for the march, including reinforcing the obstacles on the border with pyramids of barbed-wire. The army also plans to use advanced measures against rioters.

 

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, slammed Hamas ahead of the planned demonstration, warning the terror organization of exploiting it for their own ends. "Hamas is and will continue exploiting the demonstrations in front of the fence to incorporate Hamas members, who will blend in with the protesters in civilian clothing. A transparent and obvious move."

 


First published: 03.26.18, 21:32
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