The Israeli army has raised its alert level and is preparing for a range of escalatory scenarios after Tuesday’s third deadly terror attack in just over a week, which in all have taken the lives of eleven people.
“The IDF is prepared for a variety of scenarios and will continue acting as needed to preserve the daily routine of Israeli civilians,” said IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi. “IDF soldiers are deployed throughout the various regions in order to strengthen the overall sense of security and protect Israeli civilians.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Wednesday approved the implementation of several steps to strengthen “defensive and counterterrorism efforts” aimed at bolstering the IDF’s readiness. Gantz ordered the reinforcement of 1,000 combat soldiers in training to assist the Israel police forces in the internal security effort.
Divisions within the IDF were also ramped up, with 12 combat battalions sent to the West Bank and another two to the Gaza border, in addition to the reinforcement of intelligence and observation forces.
Other measures include intelligence-gathering efforts with an emphasis on social networks to locate potential assailants, clamping down on attempts by Palestinians to illegally trespass into Israel, and stopping weapons sales.
The IDF is proposing an accelerated recruitment process of thousands of border guards in reserve who will be under the IDF command, for assignment to the police as needed.
“If it will be necessary, we are prepared for the immediate recruitment of thousands of reservists who will flood the streets together with the Israel Police,” Gantz said. “We have an excellent and determined military, brave and valued police officers, and dedicated security personnel with exceptional capabilities.”
“We will restore security and stability by showing strength, wisdom and responsibility — with no rage or hysteria,” he added.
The announcements come after a 27-year-old Palestinian gunman, Diaa Hamarsheh, on Tuesday evening killed a total of five people in Bnei Brak, a city on the outskirts of Tel Aviv. Among the victims were 29-year-old Rabbi Avishai Yehezkel, who was walking his two-year-old son in his stroller at the time of the attack; a Christian Arab police officer, Amir Khoury, 32, who helped kill the assailant; and Yaakov Shalom, 36, a father of five who was driving home when the terrorist shot him. The other two victims were Ukrainian nationals who have not yet been officially identified.
Following the third terror attack in just over a week, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that Israel was battling with a “new wave of terrorism,” following a period of quiet.
“Terror’s goal isn’t only to murder innocent people but also, to make us hate and be angry with one another. The terrorists want to see violent riots in the streets of Israel,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said. “We won’t allow terrorists to set our policies, and we won’t allow terrorists to tear us apart from within.”
“The State of Israel needs many more police officers on the ground, and we will make sure that this happens,” Lapid stated.
Overnight, the IDF together with security forces and Israel Border Police apprehended five individuals suspected of being involved in the attack. Among those arrested for interrogation was the brother of the culprit, who is from the village of Ya’bad in the northern West Bank, close to Jenin.
During a broad military campaign by security forces in a number of locations in the West Bank, including Ya’bad, the house of the terrorist’s home was mapped for potential demolition.
The Turkish embassy in Israel on Wednesday joined in condemnations of the attack, and raised concerns that recent spate of terror incidents will “drag the region back into conflict ahead of the upcoming month of Ramadan and Passover holiday.”
“There is a violent eruption by those who want to destroy us, those who want to hurt us at any price, whose hatred of Jews, of the State of Israel, drives them crazy,” Prime Minister Bennett said. “They are prepared to die — so that we will not live in peace.”