IDF ARMORED MILITARY vehicles are seen against the skyline of Gaza on Tuesday. Has a major conflict been deflected or merely delayed?.
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
After several weeks of calm in Israel’s South, the IDF has ordered the additional troops de-ployed along the Gaza border last month to stand down.
“In accordance with the ongoing assessment, it was decided to release the increased forces in the Southern Command for ongoing operations and training to improve their readiness,” the IDF told The Jerusalem Post, adding that “the IDF continues to be highly prepared and will act quickly according to need.”
The army deployed three infantry brigades and an artillery unit to enhance the Southern Command after a long-range rocket attack on central Israel destroyed a family home in March. The leave of all combat units assigned to the command was also canceled and reservists from several units were called up.
The rocket attack led to another round of violence between Israel and Hamas.
A tense calm has been holding in the South, with reports of a ceasefire deal mediated by Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations in the works.
According to reports, the ceasefire would see an end to the violence along the Gaza border fence in exchange for Israel easing restrictions on the blockaded coastal enclave.
In early April, Israel expanded the allowed fishing zone for Gazans to a range of between 22 km. and 28 km. reportedly as part of the deal.
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories said the expansion of the fishing zone is part of a policy to prevent humanitarian deterioration in the Gaza Strip and of a “policy that distinguishes between terrorism and the civilian population.”
“The implementation of the move is conditional on the fishermen in Gaza honoring the agreements. It will not be possible to deviate from the ranges that were agreed upon, and any deviation will be handled accordingly,” COGAT said.
More than half a million Palestinians have been violently demonstrating along the security fence with Israel since March 30 of last year, demanding an end to the 12-year-long blockade. Several thousand to 45,000 congregated at various points along the border every day; usually more on Fridays. Palestinians call the protests the “March of Return.”
On Friday, a 15-year-old Palestinian teenager identified by the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry as Maysara Abu Shaloof was killed after he was shot by IDF troops during the riots, which saw around 7,400 demonstrators riot along the fence.
The number of Friday protesters was down from the previous week, which saw some 10,000 Palestinians demonstrate, and from the week before which saw over 40,000 people gather to mark Land Day and the first anniversary of the riots.
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