The Israeli army deployed an Iron Dome anti-missile battery in the southern city of Ashdod Thursday morning following a defense establishment assessment of recent incidents.
The measure signifies concerns that the rearrest of Palestinian suspect Mohammed Allaan, and his resumption of a hunger strike over his incarceration without charges, could spark fresh rocket attacks from Gaza. It also comes amid an escalation in violence in and around Jerusalem’s volatile Temple Mount compound, holy to both Jews and Muslims.
A battery was last deployed in the area one month ago, after Alaan’s health deteriorated and security officials feared reactions from militant groups inside the Gaza Strip. lslamic Jihad had threatened to attack Israel with rocket fire from the Gaza Strip if Alaan, who is said to be a senior activist in the group, died.
The IDF southern command said Thursday’s deployment was not in response to specific threats but rather a preemptive measure.
Allaan began a hunger strike in June to protest his internment under administrative detention, which allows Israel to jail suspects without charging them. He was being held for suspected involvement with Islamic Jihad.
The High Court of Justice in August suspended Allaan’s administrative detention after tests showed that he had sustained brain damage as a result of his two-month fast. There were conflicting reports as to whether the damage was reversible.
The temporary suspension of his status as prisoner was enough to allow Allaan to end his hunger strike, family members said at the time.
Allaan had become a cause celebre in Palestinian society, and throughout his hospitalization Arab supporters and Jewish detractors staged rallies near the hospital, at times clashing with police.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.