Israel arrests top Islamic Jihad operative as tensions rise

Palestinians arrive at Erez crossing with Israel in the northern Gaza Strip

Palestinians arrive at Erez crossing with Israel in the northern Gaza Strip

The Israeli army said on Monday that it arrested overnight what it called the "senior operative" in Arraba near the city of Jenin in the northern part of the occupied West Bank.

Channel 2 news, citing high-ranking military officials, said the army deployed the batteries countrywide, especially in central Israel, and tightened security on the Gaza border after Islamic Jihad threatened to avenge the killing of 10 of the group's fighters when Israel destroyed a cross-border tunnel on Oct 31.

"In any case, we see Hamas as responsible for every attack that emanates from, or is planned against us in the Gaza Strip", he said.

"We are aware of the plot that the Islamic Jihad has been planning against Israel", Mordechai declared. The same for Jihad leaders in Damascus (mentioning their names). But Palestinians say tunnels are used to ease the crippling siege on Gaza imposed by Israel and Egypt.

The PIJ threat was issued after Israel's Maj.

The group condemned the arrest, calling it the "latest escalation" by occupation forces against its members and the Palestinian people.

Speaking at the beginning of a Cabinet session on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to harshly respond to any attack perpetrated by the Palestinian Islamist movements against Israeli areas.

Israel has said it is holding the bodies of five militants retrieved from the tunnel and implied it would try to use them as bargaining chips to retrieve the remains of two Israeli soldiers believed held by Hamas.

The Gaza front has been relatively peaceful for Israel since 2014 when more than 2100 Palestinians and 70 Israelis were killed in a 50-day war.

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