Israel's army closes areas near Gaza citing reprisals risk

AFP

3 min read
Israeli soldiers block roads near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip, on August 2, 2022.
Flash90Israeli soldiers block roads near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip, on August 2, 2022.

'The area has been closed to civilians due to a direct threat and in order to prevent a possible attack'

Israel's army (IDF) closed areas near the Gaza border to civilians on Tuesday, citing a risk of reprisals following the overnight arrest of two senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) members, the IDF and Palestinian sources said.

A 17-year-old Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli forces during a late Monday raid in the flashpoint West Bank district of Jenin. The IDF said it operated alongside police, who arrested "two wanted terror suspects."

A Palestinian security source, who requested anonymity, told AFP that one of those arrested was Bassem al-Saadi, a senior figure in the PIJ's political wing in the West Bank.

The source identified the second person detained as Saadi's son-in-law, a Jenin-based fundraiser for the militant group. 

"Following a situational assessment after terrorist activities were identified with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization, it was decided to block off areas and routes adjacent to the Gaza Strip security fence,” the IDF said.

"The area has been closed to civilians due to a direct threat and in order to prevent a possible attack on civilians."

Israel’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid was reviewing security on Tuesday in light of the threat risk.

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Saadi was wounded by an Israeli army dog during his arrest, the Palestinian source said. As news of his detention spread, crowds began to gather in the Jenin refugee camp and the nearby city of Nablus, as supporters voiced solidarity with the PIJ. 

Home to some 2.3 million Palestinians, Gaza is under a 15-year-long Israeli-Egyptian blockade, in response to the Islamist group Hamas ousting forces loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The PIJ, a militant group with close links to Iran, has a strong presence in Gaza, regularly using it as a launchpad for rocket attacks against Israel. 

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