Security officials tie the escalation to the event in Jerusalem * Kohavi pushes off trip to the US
Security officials hold that the escalation in Gaza, in which over 30 rockets were launched from the strip into Israeli territory in the night between Friday and Saturday, is tied to the ongoing riots in Jerusalem, in which extreme-right Jews and Arab clashed throughout the week.
Some 36 rockets were launched from Gaza into Israeli territory in the night between Friday and Saturday. Six of which were intercepted, and an IDF tank attacked a Hamas outpost as IAF aircraft struck rocket launchers in retaliation during the night.It is believed that a further escalation in Jerusalem could lead to an escalation in the south — and vice versa — calming the clashes in the capital could stop the deterioration of the situation in Gaza.
It is also believed that this barrage slipped out of Hamas’s hands, and there was no intention by Hamas to ignite the situation with Israel. Most of the rockets were fired by what is dubbed in the security establishment as “recalcitrant organization” such as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Most of the rockets landed in open fields and were fired to short ranges — and were not aimed at major civilian areas, which could also indicate that there was no intention to further escalate the situation.
Meanwhile, Defense Ministry Benny Gantz said on Saturday that if the quiet will not be kept on the Gaza border, the Strip will be severely hit — in its economy, security, and from the civilian perspective.”Speaking after a situation assessment meeting, Gantz said that “the equation is very clear to them [Hamas]. The IDF is ready for the option of further escalation, and we will do anything we can to maintain the situation calm.”
Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi has instructed the army to prepare for a possible escalation.
Due to the situation, Kohavi postponed his upcoming trip to the United States to an unknown date.
Kohavi is supposed to meet top US defense officials such as National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.
On Saturday afternoon, Kohavi held a security assessment meeting with senior IDF officials at the Kiryah in Tel Aviv. Included in the meeting were Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, National Security Council Chief Meir Ben-Shabbat, and Israel Police Cheif Kobi Shabtai, in addition to others.
The first three launches were detected as coming from the Gaza Strip and falling near the town of Kisufim, in the Eshkol Regional Council. The IDF’s Iron Dome missile-defense system intercepted one of them. The other two fell in open areas near the border fence.
Later on Friday night, at around 1:50 a.m., additional sirens were heard at Alumim, Be’eri, Kfar Maimon, and Tushiya, in the Sdot Negev and Eshkol regional councils.
Minutes later, more sirens were heard in Mivtahim, Amioz, Yesha, Nir Yitzhak, Tzohar, and Ohad, all in the Eshkol Regional Council.
Just before Israel’s top security officials convened with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a situation assessment meeting, the Mujahideen Brigades in Gaza launched test rockets toward the sea, as part of a drill commemorating 20 years to their establishment.
The IDF briefly instructed citizens living in the border communities to avoid working in the fields adjacent to the fence, to halt the activities of the education system, and prevented large gatherings of people.
However, the restrictions were lifted, and as of Saturday morning, there are no limitations.
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid commented on the events and said: “The residents of the border communities near Gaza had a hard night. The State of Israel can’t allow them to go back to a reality of fear and terror.
“Hamas must pay a heavy price for breaking the quiet [atmosphere],” he said. “I send my support to the residents of the [Gaza] envelope.
“36 rockets. Hamas in the south, Hezbollah in the north, and Iran are all seeing the weakness of our paralyzed government,” he added.
Idan Zonshine and Gadi Zaig contributed to this report.