Israeli Movements to Confront Iranian Threat: Reservist Call-up and Communication Jamming

The Israeli army announced late yesterday, Thursday, that it canceled leaves for combat units, summoned more reserve soldiers, and jammed signals from the Global Positioning System (GPS), amid increasing threats from Iran following Israeli strikes targeting Iranian sites in Syria, according to the American newspaper, The New York Times.

Israeli Concerns

The newspaper reported that the Israeli army did not explicitly mention the reason behind these movements, while Israeli newspapers said it came amid fears of an increasing threat from Iran, a possibility hinted at by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in statements before the National Security Council on Thursday night.

Netanyahu said, “For years, Iran has been acting directly against us and through its proxies; therefore, Israel is acting against Iran and its proxies, defensively and offensively,” without explicitly referring to the army’s movements.

He added, “We will know how to defend ourselves, and we will act according to the simple principle that whoever harms us or plans to harm us, we will harm them.”

Iranian Pledge

The newspaper pointed out that the Israeli move comes in the wake of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi‘s pledge to punish Israel for killing senior Iranian officials this week in an airstrike in Syria. The attack was one of the deadliest in the decades-long shadow war between the two enemies, and American officials have expressed concerns that it could lead to retaliatory strikes against Israel or its ally, the United States.

The Israeli army announced Wednesday night that it had decided to mobilize reservists for its air defense unit, without providing further details.

It added that the announcement of the halt to leaves for all combat units came in another brief statement, with the army stating that the decision – which it described as temporary – was made “in light of the latest situation assessment,” adding that Israel “is in a state of war and is deploying forces under continuous assessment.”

Army spokesman Admiral Daniel Hagari later said at a press conference that Israel also disrupted GPS signals during the day to intercept any threats, not specifically attributing them to Iran, a group, or a particular state.

He continued, “During the war, we dealt with a large number of threats launched against Israel, missiles, drones, and cruise missiles,” referring to unmanned aerial vehicles, such as drones, adding that “most of them were manufactured in Iran.”

Gaza War

The newspaper confirmed that these movements come as the Israeli army is under pressure due to months of fighting against Hamas in Gaza, where reservists have been called up for longer periods or additional periods of service, reigniting a sharp national debate on whether ultra-Orthodox Jews should be compelled to join the army.

Netanyahu pledged to continue pressing Gaza by invading the southern city of Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians have taken refuge. His pledge to invade Rafah comes despite growing calls for a ceasefire and international criticism of Israel’s conduct in the war.

American officials have expressed concern about the number of civilian deaths in Gaza and warned that Israel’s plans to invade Rafah could lead to a catastrophe. Deadly Israeli attacks on a convoy of relief workers this week have exacerbated these fears, prompting sharp criticism from President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

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