(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Israel is seeing Iranian influence in the Gaza Strip, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Tuesday during a tour of the IDF Southern Command with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Iran’s arms are actually sent to every possible place in the Middle East,” Ya’alon said. “The support for Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the support for Hamas – we see the arms beyond the borders of the [Southern] Command, too, [but also] in Lebanon with Hezbollah, on the Golan Heights, in the front they are trying to open against us, and as they declare, they wish to set up a terrorism infrastructure in Judea and Samaria.”
The defense minister added that in Sinai, Egyptian security forces were acting against extremist Islamic elements that have attacked Israel in the past and might try to do so again.
His comments came before Maj.-Gen. Sami Turgeman, head of the Southern Command, cited a number of soldiers for exemplary actions during Operation Protective Edge last summer.
Members of the Artillery Corps’s Dragon Battalion and Sky Rider tactical drone unit received letters of commendation from Turgeman signed by newly instated IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot.
The Dragon Battalion, together with the Namer (Leopard) Battalion, provided critical fire support to infantry and armored units during the fighting, firing thousands of shells and destroying enemy targets. Their actions helped rescue units that came under heavy Hamas fire and enabled maneuvering units to complete their missions.
The Sky Rider drone unit deployed throughout the Gaza sector, providing continuous assistance to ground units.
The drone operators identified large numbers of enemy targets and thwarted numerous attempts to attack IDF units, saving the lives of soldiers.
Conscripted and reserve Sky Rider unit members continued to operate in the area after hostilities ended.