A Police roadblock in the south amid security concerns

Israelis in Gaza border communities under lockdown for 2nd day amid tensions

Residents of two communities on the border with Gaza told they must not leave before dark as roads under possible attack by Islamic Jihad; one man says can accept restrictions as long as no rockets launched from Strip

Matan Tzuri, Yoav Zitun, Itamar Eichner |
Published: 08.03.22, 18:57
Israeli civilians living in two communities on the Gaza border, have been told to remain under lockdown for a second day after security authorities were concerned the Islamic Jihad would fire anti-tank shells at their vehicles in response to the Tuesday arrest of a senior operative in the West Bank.
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  • Residents of Kerem Shalom and Nachal Oz were unable to leave or enter their communities unless under the protection of darkness or in case of emergency. They were urged to stay inside their homes for their own protection.
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    חסימות הכבישים בשער הנגב בעקבות פעילויות טרור המזוהות עם ארגון הטרור הג׳יהאד האיסלאמי
    חסימות הכבישים בשער הנגב בעקבות פעילויות טרור המזוהות עם ארגון הטרור הג׳יהאד האיסלאמי
    A Police roadblock in the south amid security concerns
    (Photo: Roie Idan)
    Other roads in the area were also closed but most communities were able to use alternative routs.
    Bassem al-Saadi, a senior member of the Islamist terror group was arrested in Jenin and dozen more operatives were detained in raids on the West Bank.
    The Islamic Jihad in Gaza, said in a statement that they will take revenge against Israel
    Amalia Simon lives in Kerem Shalom and is waiting to give birth. She says she is a little worried, but mainly excited. “I’m already a week past my due date," she says. "There are a lot of questions now with this situation. Will my husband and kids be allowed to visit? How will we leave our house without risking our lives? There are still uncertainties, but it looks like it will end soon, and everything will be okay.” she says.
    In Nachal Oz, residents are also leaving their homes only when necessary. “We’re arranging carpools so we leave with fewer vehicles, on man says. "We’re managing with supplies we have and hope things calm down soon. Things are a little tense, but we’re getting by. So long as there aren’t alarms and missile launches, it looks like peace will remain and the lockdown will be lifted,” he says.
    Noam Jackson, A coordinator for a summer camp in Kibbutz Saad near the Gaza strip, said they only stay near public shelters. “The kids are in camp from Sunday to Thursday and sleep here, so parents are naturally worried and asked that more adults remain with the kids," he says.
    "They didn’t want to cancel the camp and did not take the children back home.” Jackson says.
    So far the border area is still calm but road blocks cause heavy traffic. In some communities people can only leave through fields or with military escort. Residents still don’t know when the blockades will be lifted and some are beginning to lose patience.
    The military said restrictions will likely remain in place through Thursday. Israel has appealed to Qatar to intervene and ensure the terror faction does not strike civilians, sources say.
    In Sderot, the largest city in the area, daily routine is unchanged but business owners are angry.
    “It’s crossing a line. It’s unthinkable that, because of one arrest in the West Bank, Israel’s south is paralyzed.” One of the store owners says. “It can’t go on like this. Life has been thrown off track in a second. Who will compensate business owners for their revenue loss” he asks.
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    תגבור כוחות צה"ל עוטף עזה
    תגבור כוחות צה"ל עוטף עזה
    IDF forces in Southern Israel
    Head of Eshkol Regional Council, Gadi Yarkoni, says that blocking the roads and halting train routes in Southern Israel was the right call.
    “The IDF and security forces are doing things right. It protects residents, and keeps targets away from those who want to hurt us. They are however, successful in keeping us locked down, but that shouldn’t be what breaks us.” Yarkoni said.
    Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yair Lapid called for a cabinet meeting on Wednesday to discuss the situation in the south. Sources say that Lapid is being briefed numerous times a day.
    Defense Minister Benny Gantz addressed the situation during a meeting of his Blue & White party. “
    The IDF, Shin Bet, Border Police and police forces are doing everything to prevent terror attacks and keep residents safe," Gantz says. "it’s our only goal. We will keep operating wherever and whenever needed.” he says.
    “We’re making efforts to bring the daily routine back to residents near the Gaza border – and if life cannot be conducted normally here, it will not be conducted normally in Gaza. I want to send words of encouragement to the resident who provide us with an ability to run a well-managed and responsible security policy. The trust we receive from the Israeli society must be treasured,” Gantz says.
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    תגבור חיילים בישובים עוטף עזה
    תגבור חיילים בישובים עוטף עזה
    IDF forces in Southern Israel
    (Photo: Barel Efraim)
    Security forces are acting based on intelligence that indicates the Islamic Jihad movement has instructed its operatives to attack Israeli targets. High ranking sources say that a small discomfort over blocked roads is better than injuries caused by fire on Israeli vehicles.
    The IDF and Shin Bet say they must continue their preventive operations and arrests of terrorist cells in the West Bank, to prevent terrorist attacks launched by Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.
    Arresting operatives can lead to important intelligence, and deter terrorist organizations despite the temporary discomfort caused to residents of the south, the officials say.
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