IDF boosts forces on northern border, in south and West Bank

Israel’s top ministers to meet for first time in months, amid warnings on Iran

Security cabinet to convene Sunday as Liberman urges PM, Gantz to agree on unity, citing ‘national emergency’ and evoking Yom Kippur War; Islamic Jihad holds Gaza rally

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right), Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (center) and Intelligence and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (left) during a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem in 2016, file photo (Amit Shabi/POOL/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right), Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (center) and Intelligence and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (left) during a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem in 2016, file photo (Amit Shabi/POOL/Flash90)

The Security Cabinet will convene Sunday for the first time in two months, amid cryptic warnings by Israeli leadership in recent days of a growing security threat.

Members of the top forum will meet at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem in the afternoon.

In recent days Hebrew media has on several occasions quoted unnamed security officials as warning of the rising threat of an attack orchestrated by Iran.

On Friday, Channel 13 news was the latest to report concerns that Tehran, emboldened by military successes against the US and Saudi Arabia, will seek to attack the Jewish state.

Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin have mentioned crucial security needs in recent days as they called for the formation of a broad unity government.

The Blue and White party’s Gabi Ashkenazi, newly appointed head of the Knesset’s powerful Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, also spoke Thursday of “many challenges in the security realm, some known to all and some that are only discussed behind closed doors.”

On Saturday evening Yisrael Beytenu chief Avigdor Liberman repeated his call for Netanyahu and Blue and White chief Benny Gantz to form a unity government, citing a “national emergency, economic challenges and security threats from south, north and further away.”

Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman speaks to press while touring the Sarona Market in Tel Aviv on election day, September 17, 2019. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Liberman noted in a Facebook post that the country on Sunday will mark 46 years since the Yom Kippur War, the most traumatic conflict in the nation’s history and one in which the country was caught off guard by its enemies, and said it was imperative to remember its legacy “of leadership and love of country.”

“We are at a political crossroads,” Liberman wrote. “The election results can lead to only one conclusion — the people want unity… I once again call on Prime Minister Netanyahu and MK Benny Gantz: Show responsibility and leadership, set aside your egos and stops the games, spin and time-wasting.”

Netanyahu, during a speech Thursday at the swearing-in of the new Knesset, also called for a “broad national unity government,” saying the country’s security challenges demanded political stability.

“No one faces as many challenges as we face, no other country. And democracies that don’t grasp that you need to unite in a time of danger suffer a heavy price,” he said.

“This isn’t spin, it’s not a whim, this is not ‘Netanyahu trying to scare us,’” he said. “Anyone who knows the situation knows that Iran is getting stronger and is attacking around the world, saying clearly, ‘Israel will disappear.’ They believe it, they are working toward it, we need to take them seriously.”

Blue and White party leaders Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid at a faction meeting at the opening of the 22nd Knesset, on October 03, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

But Blue and White MK Ofer Shelah rejected claims of an emergency, saying: “There is no greater cynic than Netanyahu in using matter of security for political ends. Don’t believe his fear-mongering. Everything is political with him.”

Netanyahu has sought to press Blue and White to join a coalition led by him and composed of right-wing and Haredi parties. Gantz has so far refused to sit in a coalition with Netanyahu as long as the Likud leader faces corruption indictments, and is also unwilling to join a government comprised of hard-right and ultra-Orthodox parties. Blue and White has said a unity government with Likud could be formed “within an hour” if Netanyahu steps down.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Jihad terror group on Saturday marked 32 years since its establishment, holding a rally in the Gaza Strip in which it showed off what it said was a new type of rocket.

“Gaza’s resistance is ready to fight together against any action directed at the Strip,” said organization leader Ziyad Al Nahale.

On Friday night two projectiles fired at Israel from Gaza fell short of the border fence, landing inside the Hamas-held territory, the Israel Defense Forces said, which triggered incoming rocket sirens in the Gaza border community of Kissufim in southern Israel.

A young protester waves a Palestinian flag while demonstrating by the border fence with Israel east of Gaza City on October 4, 2019. (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

The incident came hours after a Palestinian man was killed during riots along the Gaza-Israel border fence on Friday, according to the Hamas-run health ministry, as thousands took part in weekly protests.

Channel 12 reported that the IDF was bolstering troop readiness in the south, the West Bank and the northern border due to the tense situation, as well as the standard heightened alert around the Jewish holiday period.

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