The Israeli army has arrested three Palestinians armed with grenades and knives who infiltrated into Israel through the border from Gaza on Tuesday. The three were arrested over 12 miles inside Israeli territory, near the Tze’elim army base in the south.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Israel Defence Forces said it found tracks near the fence with Gaza, raising suspicions a Palestinian may have crossed the border in a breach of security. The three were armed with knives and grenades, and were caught well inside Israeli territory.
The army said the footprints were found during a routine patrol along the border fence. Local governments were informed. The IDF has since announced a “back to normal” alert level.
The three entered Israel during the night without anyone in the military noticing them. The route they traveled for the 12 miles from the border to Tze’elim has a number of communities along the way, which the terrorists could have entered and carried out an attack.
Israel is gearing up for mass protests planned this Friday along the border with the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians are planning on establishing six to eight large tent camps, capable of housing thousands of people, mostly women and children, along the border – but some 700 meters from the fence.
On Saturday, the Israeli military struck a Hamas target in the Gaza Strip in retaliation for an incident earlier that day in which four Palestinians illegally crossed the border into Israel.
The incident started around 5 P.M. when four Palestinians carrying bottles filled with flamable material approached the fence on foot and managed to cross the border into Israel near Kibbutz Kissufim, said the IDF.
The group then attempted to set fire to a military vehicle near Israeli construction work on the security barrier, the military said. When Israeli troops arrived, the Palestinians fled back into Gaza.
The incident on Tuesday is considered to be much more serious than the previous infiltration on Saturday, said a senior defense official.
MK Haim Jelin (Yesh Atid), a former head of the Eshkol Regional Council near the border with Gaza and a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said the question of how the terrorists managed to penetrate 20 kilometers deep into Israel from Gaza needs to be investigated quickly by the all security organizations. “Over time the IDF and civilians are building together resilience in the area near Gaza and without a doubt this incident could cause the strong trust to quickly crack. We must draw the conclusions immediately and act to fix the mistakes, without searching for scapegoats and without delay,” said Jelin.