Levels of violence from terror groups in Gaza are gradually increasing, a senior military source told The Jerusalem Post over the weekend.
The source said he believed Hamas is not interested in an escalation with Israel at this time because of its internal Gazan interests, and that it was still restraining smaller terrorist groups from heating things up. At the same time, “we understand that Hamas is not doing all that it can to stop attacks.”
Less established Gazan terror factions are trying to launch terrorist attacks against Israel continuously, he added.
“The situation is stable, but we are seeing a creeping escalation. A few months ago, there were not many rockets. Now we’re seeing more of them. We’re seeing more friction along the fence than in the past,” he said.
On Friday, hundreds of Palestinians approached the border fence that separates northern Gaza from Israel, entering a closed security zone, where they began damaging the fence.
IDF soldiers dispatched to the area called on the suspects to leave, fired warning shots and when that failed, fired at their legs, striking and injuring several Palestinians.
“We believe these guys are being sent to the fence by a party that has an interest in letting off some domestic pressure. We are not prepared to let threats reach the fence.Live fire is a tool to stop this,” the source said.
Last week, the IDF uncovered a very large explosive device on the border with southern Gaza. The bomb would have almost certainly caused losses in life had it been triggered as an army patrol passed by, the army believes. “We are seeing hostile terrorism along the fence,” the source said.
“Bombs are a threat we know well, and one we can deal with. We know how to secure ourselves, and we’re able to identify unusual things on the ground, like attempts to plant bombs” he said. “The enemy we are facing is learning. We try to improve our operational capabilities in the most effective way we can, to deal with this threat.”
Although the Gaza sector is relatively stable, the number of Palestinian rockets launched against southern Israel from the Hamas-run enclave have risen in recent months, as have IDF retaliatory strikes.
The threat of attack tunnels, which can be used to send terror cells into Israel to target soldiers and civilians, remains acute, the source said. “We are dealing with this, but I can’t expand further,” he said.
The IDF’s Southern Command holds regular security evaluations to gauge the latest threat levels, the source said, adding, “We’re always seeking to update our understanding of the threats.”