The outgoing head of Military Intelligence issued a stern warning to Israel’s enemies against launching attacks on Israel during the upcoming holiday season, amid increasing tension on the country’s northern and southern borders.
“We are now in a tense period,” said Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi. “We recommend that anyone who’s thinking of challenging us specifically during this holiday season should seriously consider their actions and the capabilities at our disposal.”
In a statement, the army clarified that he was referring to the tensions currently felt in the Gaza Strip, West Bank, and “northern arena” of Lebanon and Syria.
The week-long Passover holiday, due to begin on March 30, followed by the back-to-back Memorial Day and Independence Day in mid-April, is a period that regularly sees increases in violence in the West Bank, as terror groups look to take advantage of the more relaxed atmosphere when many Israelis are on vacation.
The past few weeks have seen a significant rise in the number of security incidents along the Gaza border and inside the coastal enclave, including multiple bombings on the security fence and Israeli retaliatory strikes.
On Saturday night and Sunday, the army also destroyed two tunnels inside the Gaza Strip, one of which it said was poised to enter Israeli territory.
Jerusalem and the West Bank have also seen a recent uptick in terror attacks. Last Friday, a Palestinian man rammed his car into a group of IDF soldiers in the northern West Bank, killing two of them and seriously injuring two more. On Sunday, another Palestinian man stabbed to death an unarmed Israeli security guard in the Old City of Jerusalem, while visiting the capital on a permit.
The so-called northern arena of Syria and Lebanon has remained tense since a serious air battle in February, in which Israel first shot down an Iranian drone that penetrated Israeli air space and then had an F-16 felled by Syrian air defenses during a retaliatory strike.
Halevi, who will leave his position next week after three and a half years, made his remarks at a gathering of current, former, and future intelligence officials.
Halevi’s predecessor, IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi, took part in the event, as well as his successor, Maj. Gen. Tamir Hyman.
Former Military Intelligence chiefs Ehud Barak, Moshe Ya’alon, Shloma Gazit, Yehoshua Sagi, Uri Sagi, Amos Malka, Aharon Zeevi, and Amos Yadlin were also in attendance.
During the conference, the former intelligence officers discussed developments in the unit, trends in the Middle East, and “challenges in the digital age,” the army said.