Antitank missile (illustrative)
Antitank missile (illustrative) iStock

Israel's defense echelon did not estimate that the routine arrest of Islamic Jihad terrorist Basa'am Asadi last week Monday would lead to a serious security situation.

According to a Walla! report, on the night following Asadi's arrest, the Southern Command was informed that Islamic Jihad officials were preparing to fire an antitank missile at a civilian bus carrying dozens of Israelis. Following the receipt of this information, it was decided on Tuesday to close the roads near the Gaza border, and to isolate the spaces in the area.

Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Maj. Gen. Rassan Alian began to send warnings to senior Islamic Jihad and Hamas officials, by means of agents. Islamic Jihad saw the decision to close the roads as "Israeli weakness," and prepared to expand its attack on the Israeli home front. The more the Israeli public criticized the closure, the more confidence the senior Islamic Jihad officials in Gaza gained.

According to the report, as the hours passed, the picture became clearer and the IDF gained understanding that without an extensive attack against Islamic Jihad, the terror group would likely make use of the mistake in order to harm civilians, and if the IDF did not carry out a preventive operation now, it would likely face, in the future, a surprise terror attack.

In attacking the chosen Islamic Jihad targets during Operation Breaking Dawn, Israel succeeded in eliminating the infrastructure to carry out the attack against civilian buses.