The Givati Brigade completed a training exercise to prepare the soldiers for combat in the northern region.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
Due to persisting Palestinian attacks, the IDF’s Central Command will call up reserves at the start of 2016 to free up conscripted battalions for training, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Monday.
“The situation can continue – I don’t know for how long,” he told reporters at the ministry in Tel Aviv.
All of the recent attacks have been carried out by lone attackers, and in recent weeks, no Palestinian organizations have been able to pull off any organized attacks, though this could change in the future, Ya’alon said.
“More significant hostile action is a possibility,” he cautioned.
He said Hamas and other organizations have been trying to organize shootings and bombings in the West Bank and Israel, but have so far failed due to Israel’s intelligence and operational grip. “Hence, we are left with lone attackers,” he said.
The current wave of terrorism started on September 11, when east Jerusalem youths snuck into the al-Aksa Mosque with firebombs and pipe bombs, and used them to attack Jewish visitors, Ya’alon said. He rejected Palestinian accusations that Israel planned to change the status quo on the Temple Mount.
Although the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, have toned down their incitement for fear of the violence spreading anarchy to their own turf, the Internet remains filled with calls to violence, triggering individuals to commit attacks, Ya’alon said.
Images of murder promoted by ISIS in Iraq and Syria are also influencing Palestinian youths, he said. “The deeper background is what is taught in the PA. Its eduction system does not prepare the next generation for coexistence.”
Israel has refrained from imposing a closure on the West Bank, as “there is no need, so far,” Ya’alon said. “We are safeguarding the economic routine for Palestinians – this is of course our interest.”
Meanwhile, in Gaza, Hamas is continuing to keep to stick to a truce achieved last year, due to Israeli deterrence, Ya’alon said. More than 800 trucks ferry goods into Gaza everyday via the Kerem Shalom crossing, Ya’alon said, and described the crossing as Gaza’s “oxygen supply.”
A small Salafist terrorist organization in Gaza fired a rocket at Israel on Sunday night, after feuding with Hamas, due to arrests made by the regime in Gaza, Ya’alon said.
The Israel Air Force bombed a target affiliated with Hamas on Monday in response to the rocket, which exploded in an open area in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council.
Israel holds Hamas responsible for all attacks against Israel from Gaza.
“A situation has been created in which Hamas has no interest in an escalation in Gaza, but it is interested in escalating the situation in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria,” Ya’alon said.
“Hamas did not want Gazans to hold demonstrations on the Gaza-Israel border, but it accepted them. Hamas is not happy about rocket and sniper fire from Gaza. It is working to stop this,” Ya’alon said.
Ultimately, he said, Israel’s policy is based on the concept of punishing terrorists, while enabling the general Palestinian population to live its life with dignity.
In the long term, Ya’alon expressed doubts about the chances of reaching a peace agreement with the PA, but said Israel will refrain from taking steps that would undermine achieving a potential outline for a peace accord in the future.