(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The IDF has rolled out Iron Dome anti-rocket batteries near the Negev towns of Netivot and Beersheba as a precaution in the event that tensions in Gaza escalate to a full-blown conflict.
Defense officials told Israel Radio that though they do not foresee a renewal of hostilities between Palestinians in Gaza and the IDF, the Iron Dome batteries are meant to guard against the eventuality of a resumption of rocket fire.
Local municipalities have not been updated on the deployment, and have no intention of changing safety policies within their cities.
Last month, an Iron Dome anti-rocket battery was deployed to the Haifa area.
"The IDF does not provide details about air defense evaluations. Air defenses are deployed in accordance with evaluations and needs," the IDF Spokesman Unit said.
The deployment comes amid heightened tensions in the region.
On Wednesday, a Palestinian sniper opened fire on an IDF unit guarding workers carrying out maintenance work near the Gaza border, seriously wounding a soldier from the Beduin Reconnaissance Battalion. Yet Hamas and other Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip stressed on Thursday that they remained committed to the Egyptian-brokered cease-fire with Israel, reached on August 26 after a 50-day war in the Strip.
Representatives of Hamas and other Palestinian groups held an emergency meeting Thursday to discuss the repercussions of the incident. Following the meeting, the groups reiterated their keenness to preserve the cease-fire with Israel and warned Israel against violating it.
Ismail Radwan, a senior Hamas official, said the Palestinians remained committed to the cease-fire as long as Israel also honored it.