Army readies for Gaza border attacks

OC Southern Command orders troops to prepare for possible strike during Hamas celebrations Sunday.

Galant 248.88 (photo credit: IDF [file])
Galant 248.88
(photo credit: IDF [file])
The IDF raised its level of alert along the Gaza border on Thursday amid fears that Hamas may try to launch a cross-border attack to coincide with a demonstration Sunday marking the founding of the organization, sources in Southern Command said. OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant ordered forces to prepare for a security incident targeted at Israeli civilians, or at soldiers deployed along the border. IDF officers have called for the resumption of military operations against Hamas in the Gaza Strip following the expiration of the cease-fire next Friday. Defense Minister Ehud Barak has however called for the extension of the cease-fire despite the firing of over 200 mortars and Kassam rockets into Israel in recent weeks. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to discuss Israel's plans ahead of the cease-fire's expiration. However, with Barak and political rival Livni publicly disagreeing over military policy, no operative decisions were reached. Meanwhile Thursday, amid heavy public criticism, an armored truck carrying NIS 100 million arrived in Gaza from Israel to ease a cash crunch in the Strip. The money originated from Palestinian banks in the West Bank. It marks the first time Israel has allowed money into Gaza since October. Israel suspended the cash transfers after the renewal of rocket and mortar shell attacks on Israel, in violation of the truce. Yoel Marshak, the head of an organization fighting for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit, who has been in Hamas captivity for 900 days, lambasted Barak's decision to transfer the funds and even tried to physically block the truck as it made its way to the Erez Crossing. "We have no problem with transferring water and food, but cash-flow will directly fund terror," Marshak warned. The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel on Thursday accused the state of deliberately postponing its response to the organization's petition against the cash transfer so that it could transfer the money in the meantime and tell the court it was too late to act on the petition. The Legal Forum and another right-wing organization, Shurat Hadin, filed separate petitions earlier in the day against the transfer. Justice Elyakim Rubinstein gave the state until 4 p.m. to submit a preliminary response. The state, however, submitted the response more than an hour late and informed the court that the funds had already been transferred. Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.