Israel deploys a large number of armored forces along the Gaza border

The Israeli military has deployed a large number of armored forces along the border with the Gaza Strip, in an apparent move signaling a shift in Israel’s expected response to future violence emanating from the Hamas-run territory. The massive deployment along the Palestinian enclave came in response to a decision taken, during yesterday’s cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, according to which Israel will no longer tolerate the Palestinian violence against it and is prepared to escalate the situation into an all-out-war.

It is important to note that as part of the preparatory actions taken by the IDF, Israel’s Ben Gurion International has altered the paths for takeoff and landing, to assure the safety of passengers. Nevertheless, the flight schedules in-and-out of Israel were not disrupted.

Meanwhile in the Gaza Strip, a high-level Egyptian delegation held urgent talks with Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials, seeking to restore calm after a grad rocket destroyed a residential building in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba. After the meeting, both Palestinian organizations issued a joint statement that condemned the rocket fire toward Israel, a rare statement that clearly indicated their attempt to defuse the situation. The statement read: “We reject all irresponsible attempts that try to change the direction and sabotage the Egyptian efforts, including the overnight firing of the rocket.” The statement added, however, that “At the same time, we emphasize, we are ready to confront the Israeli aggression.” According to a Hamas source the Islamist group has instructed its members to tone down the demonstrations today. According to the source, Hamas officials decided not to drag Gaza into another war – but rather – will give Egypt’s mediation efforts a chance [to succeed] and would soon review the nature of the relief measures to be given to the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, a senior delegation of Egyptian intelligence officials met with high-ranking Fatah officials, including Commander of the Palestinian General Intelligence Service Majed Faraj and Azzam el-Ahmed, whom hold Fatah’s portfolio for reconciliation. The Egyptian officials informed them about the particulars of their talks in Gaza with Hamas leaders and discussed the issues of reconciliation and reaching a truce. No further details emerged from this meeting.