The head of the Israeli military intelligence yesterday warned that violence could escalate in May on the Gaza border and in the West Bank.
Speaking at the Yediot Ahronot conference Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi said that “the month of May, with the days of independence and Nakba, signal that a possible explosion is coming, [driven on the Palestinian side by] growing frustration and hopelessness. This period will demand determined fighting against terrorism, and that we make a clear distinction between civilians and terror operatives”.
Israeli security forces are also bracing for a Palestinian “day of rage,” with thousands of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank expecting to march towards the border fence on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Passover this Friday.
Halevi said that “Hamas is at its lowest point because there are civilian and infrastructure crises,” suggesting that it is “running into the arms of Iran and using civilians by sending them to the security fence that divides Gaza and Israel”.
On Saturday night, four Palestinians infiltrated Israeli territory and set fire to an Israeli engineering vehicle that was working on a security barrier being constructed on the Gaza border. The four infiltrators crossed the border fence in the Rafah area and returned to Gaza unharmed before they could be stopped by approaching IDF troops.
The Israeli Air Force attacked Hamas military targets in a training camp in Rafah in response to the infiltration.
The IDF spokesperson said: “Hamas is solely responsible for events in the Gaza Strip and those that emanate from it. The IDF warns against incidents in which civilians are called to [attend] ‘demonstrations’ that serve as cover for attacks on security infrastructure and an attempt to attack Israeli civilians or IDF soldiers. We will continue to respond with a heavy hand to any attempt of that kind.”
Yesterday, Hamas held a large-scale military exercise in Gaza in which it fired rockets into the Mediterranean Sea and tested its readiness for an IDF incursion. As a result of machine gun fire last night in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Red Colour alert system was set off on several occasions. Consequently, the Iron Dome anti-missile system firing ten missiles, although no rockets were fired into Israeli territory. The IDF attacked two Hamas observation posts in the northern Gaza Strip.