A day ahead of the one-year anniversary of Israel’s assassination of Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Baha Abu al-Ata, Israel is preparing to counter a possible escalation in violence from the Gaza Strip. The Israel Defense Forces on Wednesday deployed additional Iron Dome batteries to southern Israel, and airline approach vectors have been altered.

Landing aircraft will approach Israel via a more northerly route, over the Sharon region, rather than over Tel Aviv. Departing flights will also take off in a more northerly direction than is usual.

The IDF’s Gaza Division was on high alert, and ready to respond to rocket fire or other forms of attack.

Last week, Israel Hayom reported that the one-year anniversary of Abu al-Ata’s death has been mentioned in the Gaza Strip for some time as a date for violence. Concerns about possible attacks from Gaza are also high in light of the COVID-19 and economic crises that have pushed unemployment in Gaza over 60 percent.

Unlike the first wave of coronavirus, which resulted in only a few dozen confirmed cases in Gaza, the second wave has resulted in thousands of cases. There are several dozen patients currently listed in serious condition in Gaza.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority is not sending any money to Gaza, and Hamas has limited entry and exit to and from the area to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Moreover, Hamas is disappointed at the lack of progress on a long-term truce with Israel. Israel in conditioning progress in talks on a solution to its captive fallen soldiers and civilians, while the powers that be in Gaza are refusing to link the issues.

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