IDF beefs up troops in Gaza border as rioting grows in the South

Decision to send reinforcements, including snipers, infantry and armored forces follows confab with Shin Bet.

Palestinians hurl stones at Israeli troops during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border fence, in the southern Gaza Strip September 21, 2018 (photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)
Palestinians hurl stones at Israeli troops during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border fence, in the southern Gaza Strip September 21, 2018
The IDF will significantly reinforce troops in southern Israel to prevent terrorist infiltration from the Gaza Strip, the IDF said Thursday.
The decision to send reinforcements, including snipers as well as infantry and armored forces, was made following a situational assessment by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot along with senior IDF and Shin Bet officials.
“The IDF is prepared for a variety of scenarios and sees Hamas as responsible for everything that happens in the Gaza Strip and from the Gaza Strip,” read the statement.
In addition to the reinforcements, the IDF has reportedly deployed the Iron Dome missile defense system over concerns of mortar and rocket fire from the blockaded coastal enclave.
On Wednesday evening at least 1,000 Palestinians violently demonstrated at several locations along the Gaza border fence, burning tires and throwing stones at IDF soldiers who responded with crowd-dispersal methods.
According to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa, 15-year-old Ahmad Samir Abu Habel was killed after he was hit in the head by a gas canister fired by Israeli troops near the Beit Hanun/Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip. Another 20 Gazans were injured.
Earlier in the day, two Palestinians were arrested after they were seen crossing into southern Israel from Gaza. A knife was found on one of the suspects.
Close to 190 Palestinians have been killed and thousands injured since March 30, when the Gaza border protests calling for an end to the 12-year Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip began.
In an interview with Yediot Aharonot and La Repubblica, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar denied that the group was gearing up for another conflict with Israel, but warned of war if the group is attacked.
“A new war is in no one’s interest, certainly not our interest. Who really wants to confront a nuclear superpower with four slingshots? War doesn’t achieve anything,” he said.
“It’s important to make it clear: If we’re attacked, we’ll defend ourselves, as always. And we will have another war. But then in a year you’ll be here again. And I’ll again tell you that with war you achieve nothing.”
Yediot touted the interview as Sinwar’s first to Israeli media since he became the Hamas leader in Gaza. But Sinwar later denied that he knew the interview was conducted for an Israeli paper, accusing Italian journalist Francesca Burri of deceiving him by saying that she entered Gaza under the pretext of interviewing him for Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper.
Meanwhile, a Hamas delegation headed by the group’s deputy leader, Saleh al-Arouri, returned from Cairo Wednesday after four days of discussions with top Egyptian intelligence officials, including Egyptian Intelligence Minister Maj.-Gen. Abbas Kamel.
The discussions revolved around both a possible reconciliation with Fatah and an arrangement in Gaza that would include a long-term cease-fire agreement with Israel.
The Gazan terrorist group had vowed to intensify the riots in response to the collapse of the cease-fire talks with Israel mediated by Egypt.
Later in the day, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman – along with Eisenkot, the head of the Intelligence Unit and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories – conducted a situational assessment meeting on the developments in the Gaza Strip, the Defense Ministry announced.
Liberman noted that the forces near the Strip are ready, and instructed the IDF to remain on high alert and prepare for any scenario.