Israel deploys missiles two weeks after bombing Gaza lifeline tunnel

Report Islamic Jihad raises state of readiness to 'highest level'

The Israel Defense Forces has raised its alert level and deployed an Iron Dome anti-missile defense battery to the center of the country amid a war of words with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group.

"We are in great pain, not only over their deaths, but because of how Israel is presenting itself as the victor in this demolition", the Al-Hayat report quoted Islamic Jihad leaders as saying.

Like the posters of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and his predecessor Yasser Arafat plastered on the walls at the Erez checkpoint, the flags celebrate an Egyptian-sponsored Palestinian reconciliation process, meant to end a decade-long split between Abbas' Fatah faction and Hamas, who have been ruling Gaza since 2007.

"The PA must resume full responsibility in Gaza".

Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip is the enclave's only terminal not controlled by Israel. The IDF believes that the group is planning a major terror attack, but by doing so, "it is playing with fire on the backs of Gaza residents, and at the expense of its reconciliation with the Palestinian Authority". A total of 14 terrorists were killed in the aftermath of the tunnel collapse, including two senior Islamic Jihad field commanders.

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In a message in Arabic published on Saturday, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) head Maj.

"It should be clear: Any retaliation of any kind by the Islamic Jihad will be met with a powerful and determined Israeli response, not only against the Jihad, but also against Hamas", Mordechai warned. "There are those who still amuse themselves these days by trying to renew attacks against Israel", Netanyahu remarked at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.

In late October, Israeli fighter jets destroyed a lifeline tunnel in the southern part of the besieged Gaza Strip, killing 10 members of the Gaza-based Islamic Jihad resistance movement and two other fighters with the fellow Hamas resistance group.

Daoud Shehab, an Islamic Jihad spokesman, called the comments by Netanyahu and Mordechai "a declaration of war". "The threat by the enemy to harm the leadership is a declaration of war and we will deal with them", the organization said in a statement. "We will take a very firm stance against anyone who tries to attack us or attacks us from any area".

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