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Daily Israel Report

IDF to Remain on Full Alert Over Passover

IDF chief Benny Gantz ends the Army's long-customary Passover vacation, orders commanders to cancel leaves and remain at full strength.
By Gabe Kahn
First Publish: 3/29/2012, 12:16 AM

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz
Flash 90

The IDF on Tuesday broke with Israeli tradition and ordered all units to cancel the long-customary Passover leaves and remain on full alert over the holiday.

Over the years, an army-wide break during Passover became a tradition followed by all major military units, including the Air Force, Navy and intelligence corps.

But this year soldiers will have to divide their vacation days among themselves in order to ensure that their units remain at full strength.

Senior military officials insisted the decision did not stem from any planned military operations set to occur on - or immediately after - the holiday.

IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz said Wednesday he gave the order saying he "does not accept" the notion of an army-wide vacation during Passover.

According to reports, many soldiers who received the news Tuesday did not believe the timing of the decision was arbitrary and dismissed Gantz's explanation as obfuscation.

Military analysts say the decision does not necessarily reflect plans to undertake a major operation, but likely stems from ongoing security concerns originating in Hamas-run Gaza.

Israel averted at least one major terror attack intended to be staged from Sinai in recent months, killing the alleged planner in an airstrike.

That strike led to a spike in hostilities with Gaza's terror gangs, who fired at least 200 rockets into Israel over a period of four days.

Israeli airstrikes on rocket launching cells firing from densely populated civilian killed 26 Gazans, of whom at least 21 were terrorists.

Critics say that Israel's airstrikes-for-rockets strategic posture vis-a-vis Gaza has only served to perpetuate the now simmering security situation in Israel's south.

A growing cadre of senior security officials and former IDF chiefs have called for a major Gaza incursion to uproot the terror infrastructure there.

Gantz himself has described such an operation as "increasingly inevitable."