Israel was on high alert on Monday evening in anticipation of a revenge attack after 14 Palestinian Islamic Jihad fighters died in a tunnel collapse a fortnight ago.
The IDF deployed its Iron Dome missile defence batteries across southern and central parts of the country after intelligence suggested plans of an attack from Gaza.
The tunnel, stretching into Israeli territory from Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, was excavated by the PIJ. But when the IDF demolished the tunnel two weeks ago, it caused a cave-in that killed 14 fighters.
On Saturday, Major-General Yoav Mordechai, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, issued a warning in Arabic to the PIJ that “we are aware of the plot” and warned its leaders that they were “playing with fire on the backs of the people of Gaza”.
A PIJ spokesman responded by saying they considered the warning a “declaration of war” by Israel.
In the past, the deaths of PIJ and Hamas commanders at the hands of Israel’s military would have automatically led to the launch of rockets from Gaza to Israeli targets.
But Egypt – which brokered last month’s talks between Fatah and Hamas, the two main Palestinian factions – exerted considerable pressure on Hamas to prevent an escalation. It views the continued ceasefire in Gaza as a central part of its strategy for fighting the ISIS branch in Sinai.