IDF prepares for escalation in Gaza during 'Great March of Return' anniversary

IDF has reinforced their positions along the border for the anniversary of the "Great March of Return" protests, which is expected to be accompanied by violent demonstrations along the Gaza border.

By YASSER OKBI/MAARIV
March 30, 2019 17:36
3 minute read.
The IDF prepares for expected escalations throughout the weekend along the Gaza border, 2019.

The IDF prepares for expected escalations throughout the weekend along the Gaza border, 2019.. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

 
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IDF has reinforced their positions along the border for the anniversary of the "Great March of Return" protests, which is expected to be accompanied by violent demonstrations along the Gaza border.

Meanwhile, according to Palestinian reports which have not yet been confirmed in Israel, the Egyptian security delegation, which was in contact with senior Hamas figures, managed to reach understandings between the two sides. However, it is clear to everyone that if the demonstrations today lead to casualties it could also lead to a further escalation in the region, or rockets into Israeli territory.

During the night, an IDF tank attacked an abandoned Hamas position in the northern Gaza Strip in response to the throwing of dozens of explosive devices on the Gaza Strip fence that rocked the surrounding communities, an attack aimed at exhausting the IDF and the residents of the south.

According to Palestinian reports, as part of the understandings between Israel and Hamas, disturbances on the fence will indeed take place - but without violence. The Hamas newspaper said that during the meeting it was agreed that Qatar would transfer a $40 million grant, "not in suitcases," and the grant would be extended until the end of the year after receiving the approval of Sheikh Tamim, who is in Tunisia.

According to the Palestinians, as part of the understandings, the diesel fuel grant will be extended until the end of Ramadan (early June) instead of April, and the development of the power plant for the improvement of electricity was also agreed upon. It was further claimed that Israel agreed to the establishment of a water reservoir in the Gaza Strip.

According to the agreement, fishing will be expanded to 12 miles on Monday, medicines will also be delivered on Monday, an industrial zone will be built in Kerem Shalom, and the UN will employ 20,000 academics instead of 6,000. Khalil al-Haya, a senior Hamas figure, said that what was agreed with Israel through the Egyptian mediator is a right, not a favor.


On the other hand, a spokesman for the military wing of the Hamas said after the publication of the arrival of the understandings that "marches tomorrow will be non-violent, but the killing of demonstrators will lead to war."

In any case, the IDF does not take risks and is prepared for every possible scenario, and last night Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi approved the plan for preparations for the expected riots. The Chief of Staff examined the preparedness in the Gaza Division area along the border fence and the main centers of disturbances in the area. In this framework, the chief of staff was presented with assessments of the forces and responses to various scenarios during the Land Day events.

Brig. Gen. Oded Besik, presented the readiness of the reinforcement forces and presented the various operational plans for units in a scenario of escalation. The chief of staff spoke with the commanders of the brigades and other commanders ahead of the events while observing the possible developments during and after, as well as the IDF's plans to confront these events. The IDF Spokesperson's Office said that "IDF forces continue to prepare for an escalation in a wide range of operational plans and are in high readiness for the events."

At the same time, the IDF conducted an informational campaign, calling on the Palestinians in Gaza not to attempt to breach the fence and the international media to use slogans such as calling "violent riots," "quiet protests."

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Ministry of Health reported that 10 Palestinians were injured by IDF sniper fire near the Gaza Strip and were reportedly injured in several locations near the Gaza Strip border fence, including east of the Jabalya refugee camp and Al Bureij. It was noted that the Palestinian group operated during the night, threw bombs at the fence and caused explosions in the southern communities.

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