Israel’s military is bracing for an attack near the border with Gaza, but other areas might be at risk as well.
Khaled al-Batsh, head of the politburo of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, told The Media Line that central Israel is under threat by his organization.
“We have every right to bomb Israel with our most advanced weapons, and make the occupier pay a heavy price. We will not settle for attacking around Gaza, but we will bomb the center of the so-called State of Israel,” Batsh said.
“We have every right to bomb Israel with our most advanced weapons, and make the occupier pay a heavy price. We will not settle for attacking around Gaza, but we will bomb the center of the so-called State of Israel.”Khaled al-Batsh
In an interview with The Media Line on Wednesday, Batsh made it clear that Islamic Jihad intends to retaliate for the arrest of its West Bank commander, Bassam al-Saadi, late on Monday night. “The Palestinian Islamic Jihad can’t sit silent and watch the Israeli crimes, and the spilling of Palestinian blood in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip,” he said.
Batsh also denied that Hamas is trying to prevent the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) from attacking Israel, stating that contact between the organizations is ongoing. “No one attempts to stop us from using our right to stop the Israeli crimes,” he said.
“Our goal is to make the occupation pay for its crimes, and to prove that the Islamic Jihad will keep to its commitment to protect the Palestinian people and the resistance anywhere,” he added.
Cabinet meets to discuss tensions
Israeli security cabinet met Wednesday for a briefing by the heads of security Shin Bet, chief of staff and head of the intelligence corps, about the high tension in the area surrounding the Gaza Strip. The ministers were briefed about status and steps taken to protect residents of the area. Roads are closed and bus stations are heavily secured in the areas surrounding the Gaza Strip, as Israeli security forces estimate a coming attack from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Security officials in Israel claim that both armed forces and civilians are at risk, as the PIJ might attempt to take revenge for the arrest of Bassam al-Saadi, a senior commander in the organization, which took place in the west bank city of Jenin Monday night. Videos of the arrest showing Saadi dragged on the ground and bit by a dog went viral on social networks immediately after the arrest, causing rage among the terror group supporters. In an unusual step, Israeli security forces published a photo of Saada after the arrest, attempting to prove he’s alive and calm down the flames.
'If they wanted to shoot rockets - they would have already done that'
Eyal Hajbi, the security chief of Sha’ar HaNegev regional council talked to The Media Line about the difficulties in being on alert: “Not one bullet was fired, yet we’re already acting like there is a war going on. People take roads that take 40 minutes instead of 5 minutes, because of the roadblocks. Don’t get me wrong- it’s frustrating, but I understand where it’s coming from,” he says. “We want to prevent them [the Palestinian Islamic Jihad-A.K.] from getting a victory image, by bombing a vehicle or a sniper shooting a solider.”
Hajbi also has an estimation of what could be the form of the attack: an anti-tank missile, or a sniper attack. “If they wanted to retaliate by shooting rockets- they would have already done that. It’s these actions that require more preparation,” he explains. “And it’s dangerous because it can easily trigger an escalation. Don’t forget that Guardian of the Walls [May 2021 escalation between Israel and Hamas-A.K] started of an anti-tank shooting from the Gaza Strip.”
While the military is blocking more and more roads around Gaza, the PIJ keeps a fog around its plans, creating an atmosphere of uncertainty for the communities around the Gaza strip. “People here don’t really have a choice. We know where we live and accept the costs. But it’s inconvenient, and tense times like this make everyone more anxious in the long run,” says Hajbi.
The Israeli military didn’t respond to The Media Line’s enquiries by time the article was published.