Saturday, May 21st | 20 Iyyar 5782

June 14, 2021 1:26 pm

Israel Ramps Up Iron Dome Defenses as Hamas Readies Incendiary Balloon Unit

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

A part of a wheat field goes in flames after Palestinians in Gaza sent incendiary balloons over the border near Nir Am, southern Israel May 9, 2021. Picture taken with a drone. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

The Hamas terrorist group, which rules the Gaza Strip, stepped up its threats against Israel as tomorrow’s Flag March in Jerusalem approaches, while the White House conveyed its concerns about a possible outbreak of violence to the Israeli government.

The march, which celebrates Israel’s reunification of the city in 1967, passes through various Muslim areas of the city, and is seen as a major flashpoint for the conflict.

There have been calls in recent weeks to cancel the march, and its route has already been changed once in hopes of damping down tensions.

N12 reported Monday that Hamas’ incendiary balloon unit, which launches arson attacks on Israel’s south, said that it will return to activity, and Hamas is calling for a march on Jerusalem to “protect” the Al Aqsa mosque.

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The Flag March does not pass through the mosque or the Temple Mount on which it stands.

In addition, Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar stated, Hamas’ rocket units have been ordered to prepare themselves to fire on Israeli cities, and the terror group has told Egyptian intelligence that it will fire on Israel as it did during Operation Guardian of the Walls last month.

The far-right Israeli MK Itamar Ben-Gvir, who has faced criticism for stoking tensions over the march, called on the new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to take a hard line on the issue, saying, “The time has come for Israel to threaten Hamas and not for Hamas to threaten Israel.”

Walla reported that newly installed Minister of Public Security Omer Bar-Lev and Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai are currently assessing the situation in collaboration with local and national security officials and the IDF.

Bar-Lev had previously said that the Flag March could go forward, saying, “In a democracy, it is permitted to demonstrate and march so long as it is in accordance with the law.”

Israel has deployed extra batteries of the Iron Dome missile defense system, and the IDF has beefed up forces in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Alon Ushpiz, the Foreign Ministry’s director-general, told the security cabinet that the Biden administration had been in contact with the ministry and stated its concerns about the march, saying that it does not want another outbreak of violence in the region.

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