Just days after SOFREP reported a US drone strike in Kabul had caused the death of ISIS leader Ayman al-Zawahri, a new terrorism threat has risen in Israel.
The Politburo of Islamic Jihad (PIJ) released a statement they “will bomb” Israel.
This announcement is related to the arrest of their top leader and another. Last Monday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reportedly arrested a top operative head. According to the statement by Israel’s Border Police and IDF, “two wanted terror suspects” were apprehended, and one of them has been identified as “Sheikh Bassam Al-Saadi.” Meanwhile, 17-year-old Dirar Riyad Al-Hajj Saleh al-Kafrini was killed during the raid.
As PIJ has lost a central figure in their operations, they are retaliating with a threat to bomb Israel’s business district.
Khaled al-Batsh (خالد البطش), a member of the PIJ and the organization’s leader in Gaza, said in an interview with The Media Line that they are looking to expand their attacks and will not “settle for attacking around Gaza.”
“We have every right to bomb Israel with our most advanced weapons, and make the occupier pay a heavy price. We will not settle for attacking around Gaza, but we will bomb the center of the so-called State of Israel.”
Al-Batsh has been working with civilians who support PIJ and organized a mass rally in Gaza on July 26 to support Palestinian prisoners held captive by the IDF. The rally featured banners with imprints like, “We will not fail our heroic prisoners.”
Al-Batsh is saying it’s the IDF who’s abusing their military power and is saying Israel’s bullying them with criminal acts.
“The Palestinian Islamic Jihad can’t sit silent and watch the Israeli crimes and the spilling of Palestinian blood in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip,” he said.
As for those who will try to stop them, Al-Batsh said no one will be able to prevent them from “using our right to stop the Israeli crimes.”
“Our goal is to make the occupation pay for its crimes, and to prove that the Islamic Jihad will keep to its commitment to protect the Palestinian people and the resistance anywhere,” he added.
Gaza on High Alert
Prime Minister Yair Lapid discussed with the high-level security cabinet to cover the strategic plans to combat PIJ’s threats. They have also assessed PIJ’s capability to execute the threat but are still mindful to cover all bases.
The IDF is following a heightened defensive military assessment and has closed down roads along the border of the Gaza Strip. They will close these roads until Thursday but have not confirmed whether the streets will open by Friday.
מסתערבי משמר הגבול של משטרת ישראל ולוחמי סיירת נחל עצרו בהכוונת השב”כ, שני חשודים בפעילות טרור במחנה הפליטים ג’נין תוך חילופי אש עם מחבלים שירו לעברם, אין נפגעים לכוחותינו>> pic.twitter.com/KeqOySe2pJ
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) August 1, 2022
The IDF has already closed several main highways, lookout points along the Gaza border, and train lines to secure the blocking of potential terrorist activities entering the city. The towns near the Gaza border also have alternative routes to exit “apart from Kerem Shalom and Kibbutz Nahal Oz which were entirely blockaded.”
Erez Crossing has also been closed off, and Sapir College is now conducting classes online.
The Shin Bet, the Israel Security Agency, said the capture of Saadi has been instrumental in maintaining peace. They claimed that Saadi had “worked even harder to restore PIJ activities, and was behind the creation of a significant military force for the organization in [the northern West Bank] in general and in Jenin in particular.”
“His presence was a significant factor in the radicalization of the organization’s operatives in the field.”
The Hof Ashkelon Regional Council released a message saying they have avoided the launch of anti-tank guided missiles or sniper attacks on the border “by virtue of keeping and complying with instructions.
The government also tried to pacify PIJ by leaking photos of Bassem Saadi to the media. According to the Palestinian Al-Quds newspaper, an unnamed source said these were efforts to “de-escalte the tensions between Israel and Islamic Jihad.” Still, PIJ is on its toes because Israel has not granted any of the terror group’s requests.
PIJ requested Saadi’s family be allowed to visit him and confirm his health and condition. They also requested all military operations in the West Bank cease. Their latest request includes the release of Khalil Awawda, a detainee on a hunger strike.
SOFREP will monitor PIJ activities in the coming weeks.