JERUSALEM, Israel – The situation along Israel's southern border with the Gaza Strip doesn't appear to be calming down from last weekend's melee.
During a 24-hour period that began Friday evening, Israel responded to 200 rocket and mortar attacks with precision airstrikes on the terror infrastructure in Gaza – the most since 2014's Operation Protective Edge.
Following Friday's weekly demonstrations along the Israeli border, the jihadists began rocket barrages that lasted through the night. The confrontation ended with a "ceasefire" at 8:00 pm Saturday.
IDF soldier keeps watch at the border with the Gaza Strip, Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff
According to Israeli media, Egypt convinced Hamas to acknowledge a ceasefire, reportedly without Israel's participation. Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, among others, said it was tantamount to capitulating to the terrorists.
Hamas officials quickly clarified that terror kites (which have destroyed up to 9,000 acres of farmland, orchards, nature reserves and forests) were excluded from the terms of the ceasefire.
The fires continued through Tuesday when Hamas announced it had instructed its forces to cease launching the devices. According to Israeli media, Egypt played a role in that decision, in turn agreeing to the group's demand to reopen the Rafah border crossing.
'Where there's smoke, there's fire,' in southern Israel, started by incendiary kite launched from the Gaza Strip, Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff
Jihadists caused at least 26 fires in Israel Tuesday, one in a preschool yard as toddlers played outside. Teachers quickly distanced the children from the flames, which were extinguished by police before they could spread.
The Palestinian Authority's official Ma'an news agency said the terrorists are switching from balloons to helium-filled children's toys, which can infiltrate further inside Israel, ArutzSheva reported. Other reports say the terrorists are working on explosive-laden drones.
During a briefing with the army's Gaza division Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "The IDF is prepared for any scenario."
On the same day, Israel announced a temporary suspension of fuel and natural gas through Sunday.
Kerem Shalom Crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip, Photo, GPO
While the UN – and Hamas – condemned the measure, the Ministry of Defense released a statement clarifying the decision.
"Given Hamas' relentless terrorism, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, after consultations with the chief of staff, has ordered suspending deliveries of fuel and gas to the Gaza Strip until next Sunday. This will not affect the delivery of food and medicine into Gaza. It was also decided to reduce Gaza's fishing zone from six to three nautical miles."
Some reports said the government has given the terror groups until Friday to stop setting fires or face an incursion by ground forces.
Meanwhile on Monday, the IDF began a major training exercise simulating that very scenario.
During a tour of the exercise Tuesday, Lieberman said the IDF knows what to do and when to do it.
"The IDF is ready for any mission," he said.