image Photo: Flash90. Haim Zach (GPO)

Israeli security leaders inspect Gaza border

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett visited the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) Samaria Brigade headquarters together with ISA Director Ronen Bar and IDF Central Command CO Maj.-Gen. Yehuda Fox.

By Erin Viner

According to a statement communicated by the Prime Minister’s Foreign Media Advisor, the Prime Minister held an assessment of the situation with the participation of ISA Samaria Brigade commanders, during which he received an intelligence briefing on the operation to foil the terrorist cell in Jenin this past weekend and discussed the situation in the area.

Prime Minister Bennett then visited the ISA Samaria counter-terrorism forward command center and observed the monitoring and gathering activity that serve the brigade in acting on warnings regarding future terrorist attacks.

Arab terrorists murdered 11 people in a number of separate attacks across Israel last week. In the sharpest spike of terrorism in years, a Bedouin Arab murdered four people in a stabbing and car ramming attack in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba on 22 March, followed by the deadly shooting of two victims by two Arab gunmen in the central city of Hadera on 27 March. Israeli authorities said all of the assailants, who were killed during their deadly attacks, were loyal to Islamic State terror group. Five other people were shot to death in Bnei Brak on 29 March in an attack that was not claimed by any armed group, though residents of the West Bank village of Ya’bad linked the assailant to the Fatah party lead by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

“Here as well, along the seam line, the IDF is showing maximum presence at hundreds of points where there are breaches, and our goal is to break this wave” of terror, said the Premier, underscoring, “We are now entering a period of ‘alert routine’ in which we want the citizens of Israel to go back to routine and the security forces will be on maximum alert. This is not an effort of a single operation but of hundreds of continuous operations. Together we will make the effort to break this wave.”

ISA Director Bar commented that his agency, also known as the Shin Bet domestic security agency, “is currently working in many areas – locally, in Judea and Samaria, online and in Gaza.”

He also told Prime Minister Bennett that he was meeting with “a sharp, determined and proficient organization that learns while in action and under fire.” Pointing to the exchange of gunfire with three Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorists on Saturday, he said, “we came under fire together with our brothers from the Israel National Counter-Terrorism Unit and thwarted a significant terrorist attack,” hailing his agency as “an organization of dedicated personnel, men and women, imbued with a sense of mission and broad responsibility, who do everything in their power to defend the security of the state and save lives.”

He went on to wish a speedy recovery to Chief Superintendent S. of the elite counterterrorism Yamam Border Police Unit, who sustained a gunshot wound to the chest during the mission.

Earlier on Friday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz conducted an inspection tour of the West Bank as Israeli security forces went onto high alert in the wake of last week’s Islamist terrorist attacks.

“We will continue to make arrests and initiate defensive and offensive actions, and we will lay our hands on those who seek to harm the citizens of Israel. Everywhere and at any time,” he vowed following the situational assessment with senior military officials.

Gantz urged the Palestinians to preserve the calm during observance of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan which began 2 April.

“I would like to wish Muslim communities in Israel and around the world, old friends and new friends “Ramadan Kareem,” he said, using the traditional greeting in Arabic on the holiday.

“The Jewish people are no strangers to the deep meaning of fasting and reflection. To you, our Muslim sisters and brothers, this is a whole month of prayer and focus on core values such as compassion and peace. In Israel, we face challenging times. A wave of terror seeks to break our spirits and divide us. In the spirit of this holy month, I thank our Muslim friends who stand beside us, and call for continued unity, peace and stability,” added the Defense Minister, going on to say that, “while radical forces try to shake us – this is also a time of groundbreaking hope and optimism. The Abraham Accords are just the beginning. We will continue working together to deepen ties between our nations and between our people, expanding defense relations and ensuring peace for us all.

Meanwhile in related developments, 14 Palestinian rioters were arrested in weekend clashes with Israeli security forces at the Damascus Gate entrance into the Old City. At least one police officer and 14 Palestinians were reportedly wounded last night, just hours after Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid visited the flashpoint are with Police Commissioner Yaakov “Kobi” Shabtai, other officials and lawmakers.

“This is a difficult, tense period, but we have a police [force] that can be relied on to get us through this complex period,” Lapid said during his tour of the area, stressing that the government “gives you full backing.”

The Palestinian Authority condemned the visit as “inciteful against Palestinians,” while the Islamist Hamas terror rulers of Gaza called it a “dangerous escalation and provocation.”