IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi ordered the commanders of combat and other units Monday (June 14) to prepare for the resumption of hostilities with Iranian-backed Hamas in Gaza, according to a report by Israel’s Channel 13 News outlet.
The warning comes in response to recent threats by Hamas against Israel in connection with the rescheduled, traditional Flag Dance Parade that takes place every year on Jerusalem Day to celebration the reunification of Israel’s capital city.
The event, previously rescheduled for last Thursday, is now scheduled to take place on Tuesday at 5:30 pm local time.
Newly installed Public Security Minister Omer Barlev said Monday that police are “well prepared” to address issues around the march, and “a great effort has been made to maintain the delicate fabric of life and public safety.”
Among the measures taken by police was a decision to change the route of the parade so that marchers will pass the Damascus Gate but will actually enter the Old City instead through the Jaffa Gate.
March Rescheduled Twice Due to Hamas
Last month on May 10, as the annual event was in progress, marchers were suddenly forced to disperse when a rocket barrage was fired at Jerusalem by Hamas, igniting the 11-day mini war with Israel.
The march has subsequently been rescheduled not once, but twice, due to threats by Hamas.
The terrorist organization told Egyptian mediators that carrying out the parade, which moves through various parts of the Old City until concluding in a celebration at the Western Wall, would result in an “explosion.”
Terrorist balloon launchers in Gaza, known as “Ibna al-Zuwari” apparently aren’t going to wait in either case. The Gaza aerial terror unit announced Monday they would resume their incendiary balloon attacks on Israeli civilians beginning Tuesday morning, the day of parade.
Israel Warned Hamas Last Month
At the conclusion of Operation Guardian of the Walls last month, Israeli government officials warned that if aggression resumes against Israel, the violence would be met with a “new level of force.”
At the time, then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement, “If Hamas thinks we will tolerate a drizzle of rockets, it is wrong.”
Netanyahu warned that Israel will respond with “a new level of force against any expression of aggression against communities around Gaza and in any other part of Israel.”
Likewise, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, a former IDF Chief of Staff, warned, “If Hamas chooses to prevent the rehabilitation of Gaza and for residents of Gaza, and to harm Israeli citizens, we will take action until we reach a calm that will serve us all. There is no other way,” Gantz underscored.
Israeli Arab MKs, Hamas Issue Warning in Similar Words
The Arab Joint List sent a letter to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, urging him to cancel the event entirely. Using nearly the same language as Hamas, the Israeli Arab Knesset members wrote that the march “will likely ignite the region and will lead to violence and a dangerous escalation.”
Hamas said in a statement issued from Gaza, “The flags march is like an explosive that will cause a new campaign to protect Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque to ignite.”
The terror group called for Palestinian Arabs to “confront Israeli settlers” on Tuesday (June 15) during the march.
“The nation and the resistance are behind you in the effort to thwart the plans of occupation,” said Abdelatif al-Qanou, a Hamas spokesperson.
IDF Ready for Action
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz approved a series of targets in Gaza for the IDF to attack, in case of renewed hostilities.
Additional Iron Dome batteries have been deployed at various sites in preparation for possible resumption of the hostilities that sent thousands of rockets flying towards Israeli communities.
It is believed, however, that Hamas will not fire rockets towards Israel, which would indeed “ignite” renewed hostilities, to the severe disadvantage of the people of Gaza.
A security source also told Walla! News the IDF is to bolster forces at various potential conflict areas such as sites in Judea and Samaria, and along the security barrier that circles Jerusalem in response to concerns of intensified rock-throwing and other terror attacks.