Israel Boosts Forces Near Gaza As Border Heats Up

Israel said on Thursday that it was beefing up its forces along its frontier with the Gaza Strip, in what it called a defensive deployment … Continue reading Israel Boosts Forces Near Gaza As Border Heats Up


A Palestinian inspects a crater which police said was caused by an Israeli air strike in Gaza CityIsrael said on Thursday that it was beefing up its forces along its frontier with the Gaza Strip, in what it called a defensive deployment in response to persistent Palestinian cross-border rocket attacks.

Israel also faced the challenge of a further eruption of Palestinian anger in Jerusalem, where violent protests broke out on Wednesday after the body of a 16-year-old Palestinian boy was discovered in a forest on the edge of the city.

Israeli police are investigating the possibility that he was the victim of a revenge killing over the deaths of three Jewish teenagers, whose abduction on June 12 Israel has been blamed on Islamist Hamas militants in the occupied West Bank.

A military spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner, said troops were taking up “defense positions” in Israeli communities that have been struck by the rockets from Gaza. He did not comment on the scale of the deployment.

It is the first time since the border began to heat up in mid June – in tandem with an Israeli military sweep and search for the three abducted Israeli youths in the West Bank – that Israel has announced troop movements near the Gaza Strip.

“We are moving and we have moved forces,” Lerner said in a conference call with foreign journalists. “Everything we are doing is to de-escalate the situation but on the other hand to be prepared if they don’t de-escalate.”

Israel, he said, has “no interest in deepening the conflict with Gaza – the absolute opposite is true”.

Jerusalem was quiet on Thursday but tensions remained high in anticipation of Mohammed Abu Khudair’s funeral. No time has been set for the burial, an event that will stir strong emotions among Palestinians and could trigger further confrontation.

The military said Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired 14 projectiles into Israel on Thursday and that rockets struck two homes in the southern town of Sderot, causing no casualties.

Israel launched air strikes against at least three Hamas training facilities in Gaza, residents said, adding that 15 people had been injured.

U.N. Human Rights Chief, Navi Pillay, condemned both Israelis and Palestinians on Thursday for the latest flare-up of violence across the Gaza border and also Abu Khudair’s killing.

“From a Human Rights point of view, I utterly condemn these rocket attacks and more especially I condemn Israel’s excessive acts of retaliation,” Pillay told journalists in Vienna.