Gantz warns any threat on Israeli civilians will be met with ‘forceful response’ as tensions run high following arrest of senior Islamic Jihad operative in Jenin

Most roads blocked by the military along the Gaza Strip border on Tuesday will remain closed throughout the following day as the IDF fears an impending attack from the Palestinian enclave due to the arrest of a senior Islamic Jihad operative.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned on Tuesday that any threat on Israeli civilians will be met with a “forceful response”.

שר הביטחון בני גנץ בסיור באוגדת עיו"ש עם הרמטכ"ל אביב כוכבי ומפקד פיקוד מרכז יהודה פוקס
IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi and Defense Minister Benny Gantz at the Gaza border (Photo: The Defense Ministry)


“Our policy is clear: whoever wants to work and live alongside us will, we extend a hand. With the second hand, we will smite whoever seeks to harm Israeli civilians and cause terror,” the defense chief said during a tour of the southern border with IDF high command.

“The IDF, Shin Bet and Border Police will continue operational activity by the means and on every front. Any threat to Israeli civilians will be met with a forceful response and we will of course be prepared for any scenario.”

Prime Minister Yair Lapid ordered the roads closed Tuesday morning following a situation assessment with defense establishment officials following the nighttime arrest of Basam al-Saadi, the leader of Islamic Jihad’s West Bank arm.

Behind the scenes, Israel continues to apply pressure on Gaza rulers Hamas through Egyptian mediators to deescalate tensions and restrain Islamic Jihad.

תגבור כוחות צה"ל עוטף עזה
IDF forces near Gaza border


Lebanon-based television channel Al Mayadeen, which is affiliated with Hamas, reported that Egyptian mediators were working to pour water on simmering tensions in Gaza and the West Bank.

Meanwhile, the IDF awaits a possible attack on the border or rocket fire that might spark swift bouts of cross-border fighting but has no intentions to further escalate the situation after months of relative calm.

Al-Saadi’s arrest was accompanied by an exchange of fire between Israeli forces and Palestinian gunmen as he barricaded himself. One Palestinian was killed in the shootout, he was later identified as Dirar Saleh al-Kafrini, an Islamic Jihad militant. There were no casualties on the Israeli side.

Islamic Jihad’s military wing threatened to avenge the arrest.

באסם א-סעדי ג'יהאד אסלאמי
Basam al-Saadi (Photo: AFP)


“We hereby announce high alert among our fighters and combat units in response to the aggression against senior commander Sheikh Basam al-Saadi and his family,” the terror outfit said in a statement.

“We warn Israel from harming al-Saadi’s life and are prepared to response with force with this doesn’t stop.”

Al-Saadi is considered Islamic Jihad’s ultimate authority in the West Bank and has been building the organization’s military capabilities across the territory, especially in the city of Jenin — from which came out many terrorists who carried out attacks against Israelis over the last year.

As reported by Ynetnews