Israel-Gaza: With tensions still high, Israeli military considers offensive

i24NEWS

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Israeli soldiers block a road in southern Israel near its border with the Gaza Strip, on August 4, 2022.
Flash90Israeli soldiers block a road in southern Israel near its border with the Gaza Strip, on August 4, 2022.

Behind the scenes, Israel is working to achieve calm through Egypt and Gaza’s ruling faction Hamas

Tensions on Israel’s border with Gaza are still high as restrictions in Israeli communities near the Palestinian enclave continued for the fourth day in a row. 

Israel fears an imminent attack by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) following the arrest of one of the group’s leaders in the West Bank earlier this week.

The Israeli army banned leaves for soldiers of the Gaza Division, while movement restrictions on southern Israeli communities could be extended for several days. 

According to sources within the security apparatus, if the PIJ carries out an attack, Israel would respond with great force. The possibility of Israel’s military taking the initiative in an offensive is also being considered.

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Behind the scenes, Israel is working to achieve calm through Egypt and Gaza’s ruling faction Hamas. 

The PIJ submitted three demands to the Egyptian intelligence service:

1. An end to Israeli arrest raids in the West Bank – particularly in Jenin.

2. The release of Bassam al-Saadi, the PIJ official who was arrested on Monday.

3. The release of Khalil Awawdeh, a Palestinian resident of a village near Hebron, who has been on hunger strike for more than 140 days.

According to a Palestinian source, the PIJ would be prepared to waive the first two demands, but not Awawdeh’s release. If he were released, the group would then lift threats of attacks against Israel.

But the Jewish state seems reluctant to meet that request.

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During a security assessment on Thursday with heads of southern localities, Israeli army Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi did not guarantee that the restrictions imposed in southern Israel – closure of roads, ban on leaving certain localities – would soon be lifted.

Israel is also considering imposing additional sanctions on Gaza to increase pressure on the terrorist organization, such as reducing the fishing zone. 

The tools at Israel's disposal are quite limited, however, as significant restrictions are already imposed, such as banning the entry of Palestinian workers into Israel and closing border crossings.

In the meantime, the situation of Israelis living in southern localities is more complicated: for three days, the roads in the region have been closed and they have orders to remain in their homes.

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