South Israel on high alert as threats grow

IDF troops near the Egyptian border

IDF troops near the Egyptian border

Israel's southern border has been on high alert since the beginning of the week following intelligence warnings of Gazan terror groups planning an attack from Sinai. Meanwhile, within the peninsula, Egyptian soldiers are pursuing their own counter-terrorism operation.

The Shin Bet believes that the incursion north of Eilat by terrorists affiliated with the Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) two weeks ago, in which eight Israelis were killed, was just a precursor for similar attacks.

According to the intelligence service, at least two teams of terrorists from Islamic Jihad and PRC have left the Gaza Strip in recent weeks and are currently preparing attacks on Israel from within Sinai.

As a result, the entire border area with Egypt, from the Gaza Strip in the north all the way to Eilat, has been put on alert. Additional IDF troops and reconnaissance units have been stationed along the border, and in civilian settlements in the area.

The IDF and Shin Bet have limited options when dealing with an attack from Sinai as they cannot enter Egypt to attack the terrorists in advance.

The Israeli government has authorised the positioning of additional Egyptian troops in eastern Sinai, beyond the levels of military presence allowed by the peace agreement between the two countries.

Meanwhile, after the round of escalation last week in which over 120 missiles were fired from Gaza into Israeli territory, killing one civilian in Gaza, the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire seemed to be holding this week.

"Hamas has a clear interest now in keeping the peace," said a senior IDF officer, "as it wants to keep control of the Strip. But its willpower to rein in the other terror organisations is less certain."

    Last updated: 1:05pm, September 1 2011