Gantz ups Egypt border defense amidst terror warnings

New defensive measures include bolstering of border security and stronger emphasis on IDF collection of intelligence in Gaza and Sinai.

August 24, 2011 13:37
2 minute read.
Ehud Barak and Benny Gantz observe Egypt border

Egypt border Barak 311. (photo credit: Defense Ministry / Ariel Hermoni)


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IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen Benny Gantz instituted new defensive measures along Israel's border with Egypt on Wednesday in the wake of intelligence indicating that additional Palestinian terror groups were planning attacks like the one carried out last Thursday by the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC).

Gantz's orders went into effect Wednesday afternoon and included a bolstering of defensive measures along the border with Egypt as well as a stronger emphasis on collection of intelligence by the IDF in Gaza as well as in Sinai in an effort to locate and track terrorists that may be planning attacks against Israel.

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Gantz also made changes to the operational doctrine of the Navy Command Center in Eilat which is responsible for protecting southern Israel from threats originating in the Red Sea.

"These are important changes that come in response to the serious threat that Israel faces today from the Sinai peninsula," a military source said.

The Defense Ministry was also considering speeding up construction of the fence on the Egyptian border.

Nearly a week after the terror attacks near Eilat, the IDF remained on high alert along the border with Egypt amid fears that additional terror cells might be in the Sinai on their way to carry out similar attacks along Israel’s southern border.

The attacks, which took place on Thursday near the Netafim Crossing, were carried out by around 20 operatives from the Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees.

Some of the terrorists crossed into Israel and others remained on the Egyptian side of the border. Eight Israelis were killed in the series of attacks.

Early Monday morning, shots were fired at IDF troops deployed along Israel’s border with Egypt, not far from the scene of last week’s attacks. Soldiers returned fire and flares were launched but the shooter was not located.

“The level of alert is still high,” an IDF source said on Monday. “We are concerned that terrorists are still roaming throughout the Sinai who could be plotting another attack.”

On Monday, Road 12 – along which the attacks took place last week – remained closed, causing severe traffic jams on other roads that lead to Eilat.

OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Tal Russo has taken responsibility for deciding to open the road the morning of the attack after it was closed the night before due to the terror alert that was provided by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) regarding the PRC plot.

Meanwhile Monday, Egypt continued to crack down on the Sinai, increasing its efforts to restore order there and deployed larger numbers of troops along some of the main roads throughout the peninsula.

As reported in The Jerusalem Post on Monday, Israel will consider allowing Egypt to deploy additional forces in the demilitarized Sinai if it requests to.

According to Arab news reports, soldiers from the Third Field Army were deployed in armored personnel carriers along the roads and were also holding meetings with senior tribal leaders in the region.

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