Anshel Pfeffer
Haaretz (Analysis)
August 29, 2011 - 12:00am

Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned Monday that Palestinian organizations in Gaza are preparing to carry out an attack similar to the one in southern Israel on August 18, in which eight civilians were killed.

Barak, who visited the plant of Israel Aerospace Industries subsidiary Elta in Ashdod on Monday morning, said that “even this morning we are on high alert in the south in the face of the possible attack, which is similar in set-up to the one that happened ten days ago.”

The Israel Defense Forces will have an additional Iron Dome system to protect Ashdod set up within the next ten days to increase protection of the south in the face of the impending attack, Barak said.

“By the end of the year, we intend to have four sites as part of a national emergency program that will bring us nine sites in less than two years, with many thousands of interceptions,” Barak said.

“This will change the foundations of the defense of Israeli citizens, and the safety of citizens,” he said.

This video from the IDF spokesperson shows the Iron Dome system intercepting a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip.

On Sunday night, IDF chief Benny Gantz ordered the deployment of reinforcements around both the southern Gaza Strip and the Egyptian border, due to intelligence reports suggesting an imminent attack by Islamic Jihad. The reinforcements were coordinated with the Egyptian army.

Although security sources estimate that Islamic Jihad is planning the possible attack, a security official made it clear that the IDF will hold Hamas responsible for any terrorist attack originating from the Gaza Strip.

“We are steadfast in our intention to reduce the incidence of the attacks from the south and to act as far as possible to intercept the attack,” Barak said. “We reiterate that the responsibility is from Gaza and with Gaza. Not just Islamic Jihad, but also Hamas and all the other security forces.”

According to estimates, members of Islamic Jihad are currently in Sinai, and despite the recent ceasefire are interested in carrying out a new attack. Security officials say that the array of tunnels along the border allowed members of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) to cross from Gaza to Sinai and carry out the attacks in Eilat a week and a half ago.

On Sunday, the independent newspaper Al Masry Al Youm reported that Egypt is considering setting up a buffer zone on its border with the Gaza Strip following the recent bloodshed. The plan includes removing smuggling tunnels running across the 14-kilometer-long border with Gaza.

The U.K.-based newspaper Al-Hayat reported Monday that Egypt has deployed 1,500 troops in the Sinai peninsula, a move that was coordinated with Israeli security forces.


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