The Israeli army went on high alert on Wednesday over a possible escalation with the Gaza Strip sparked by the one-year anniversary of the killing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu al-Atta.
The precautionary moves came a day before the anniversary of Abu al-Ata’s death on November 12, 2019, which sparked a fierce round of fighting with Islamic Jihad at the time.
According to Yedioth Ahronoth, more Iron Dome missile defense batteries deployed to the south, flights into and out of Israel appeared to have been directed to use Ben Gurion International Airport’s northern paths, keeping them farther from the Gaza Strip.
These changes in air traffic routes — visible with civilian flight path tracking software — is generally seen when there is active fighting or expectations of it.
After this change, it is assumed that civilian aircraft will take off and land without flying over the West Bank, but over areas north of Tel Aviv.
In addition, the Israeli army is keeping a close eye on the northern front, where tensions have been high since a Hezbollah operative was killed in July in an attack in Damascus, which was attributed to Israel.
Israel has also shot down a Hezbollah drone that had infiltrated into Israeli territory.
Israeli projections for an escalation with Gaza are not new, as security agencies have warned that Islamic Jihad has been seeking confrontation for some time. Not only is the group not satisfied with the way the truce agreements are going, it is also under pressure from Iran to escalate.
The Israeli website “Walla! NEWS” reported that some members of the group’s military wing believe that the response to al-Atta’s assassination was insufficient, and will therefore seek a proper retaliation to mark the anniversary of his death.
Islamic Jihad leader Ziyad al-Nakhalah, in a public speech on Tuesday, reaffirmed his group’s commitment to its resistance and jihadist ideology, adding that group was prepared to fight.
The Israeli fears of an escalation came despite the existence of a truce sponsored by Qatar in Gaza. Israel says the ceasefire agreement is fragile.