In an unusual step, the IDF has deployed artillery batteries along the border with Gaza in response to last week’s attempted bombing attack in the northern section of Gaza.
The artillery batteries have been stationed along with soldiers deployed in the area.
Over the past seven years, artillery batteries have been deployed during times of a sharp increase in attacks coming from Hamas or during IDF military action against Gaza. The batteries offer a quick and destructive response to attacks emanating from open areas.
Up until Operation Protective Edge, artillery has been infrequently used in Gaza, and has always been a measured response. This is due to the density of the population and the fear of inadvertently striking non-combatants.
However the IDF and the Defense Ministry found that during Operation Protective Edge, the artillery batteries proved their worth.
The IDF spokesperson’s office attempted to calm tensions with regards to the deployment, stressing, "This is not an escalation of forces in the area, but rather we are simply moving forces that were already deployed to a more strategic area."
"This is part of our regular defense plan, and is scheduled in our yearly deployment roster for the IDF. There is no current preparation for conflict taking place in the area."
Residents in the area as well as commuters on the new train line that connects Ofakim to the Be'er Sheva-Ashkelon line have reported some concerns over seeing the new artillery cannons deployed.
“I take this train twice a week and suddenly I see artillery cannons outside the window” said one commuter Yedioth Ahronoth. “We all stared out of the window. This is not usual for us. It is even a bit concerning as we are always worried that war is going to break out here in the south."
"Yet, seeing the army is always comforting, but there is still always that fear," the commuter added. "I hope that the deployment isn’t a sign that something is about to happen.”