IDF Shaked Battalion on the Gaza Border (Photo: IDF Flicker)

Fearing a worst-case scenario following a recent rise in tensions between Israel and Gaza, the Defense Ministry issued a written warning on Tuesday for all residents living near the Gaza border to have packed bags at the ready. “In the event of an emergency, there is a decision to completely evacuate,” the letter stated.

Increased efforts by the IDF to uncover and destroy Hamas terror tunnels, such as the one discovered in April, have sparked frustrations along the Gaza strip. Angrily responding to Israel’s operations against the tunnels, IDF soldiers stationed at the northern border came under Hamas fire multiple times just last week.

Should tensions reach an absolute peak, residents have been instructed to “lock all doors, close the windows and blinds, take personal weapons and any pets, along with food, and turn off the gas valve,” Channel 2 reported. They are also required to report to relevant security personnel upon departure.

As for the means of escape transportation, civilians may only travel via private vehicle or by buses provided by local government councils, The Times of Israel reported. Additionally, they were given explicit instructions on which communities to reach for safety if necessary.

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Despite the extensive preparations, however, Israeli officials emphasized they did not believe there is a serious threat of renewed conflict on the Gaza border. Hamas, as well, conveyed to Israel through Egypt that it does not seek another war. But the terrorist organization has been caught numerous times enhancing their arsenal by smuggling in weapons, lending serious doubt to their assurances.

The latest escalation comes during what some may consider precarious timing. This July will mark two years since Operation Protective Edge, a counter-offensive attack against Gaza in response to ongoing rocket fire by Palestinian terrorists. Following the war, the region saw a long period of relative calm. Recent activities, however, have renewed tensions in the area, provoking the Israeli government to take defensive precautions.

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Source: Israel in the News