Israelis living in communities in southern Israel around the Gaza Strip have been told to stay within a 15 second distance of bombs shelters and safe locations due to the possibility that terrorists will launch rockets into Israel.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported on Monday that Egyptian security officials told Ma'an that Cairo has warned its troops based in northern Sinai to be on alert for booby-trapped cars approaching any security installation.
Following Israeli airstrikes in Gaza that killed three terrorists on Saturday and Sunday, including Hisham Saedni, one of the most influential al-Qaida leaders in the Strip, Israeli security forces were already on high alert along the borders with Egypt and Gaza to thwart potential attacks emanating from Sinai.
An Israel Defense Forces spokesperson confirmed to Israel Hayom that based on intelligence information, the IDF was on high alert along Highway 10, in the area of the Kerem Shalom crossing near the Gaza border. However, no cross-border incidents were reported in the area as of Monday afternoon. Along Israel's southernmost border with Sinai, near Eilat, the IDF was also on high alert but the army's counterterrorism unit had not been called to the area.
Since Aug. 2011, when terrorists infiltrated from Sinai along Highway 12 and killed eight Israelis, Israeli forces stationed on the border with Egypt have been on a constant state of alert. There have been a number of incidents along the border since that attack, and several rockets have been fired toward Eilat from Sinai.
In Sinai, where the Egyptian military says it is working to dismantle terrorist infrastructure, armed men seized an Egyptian military vehicle in the northern Sinai city of el-Arish on Sunday. The armed men, riding a pick-up truck, stopped the army car, forced out an officer and a soldier then drove into the desert, according to Ma'an.
In the meantime, residents of Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip endured yet another day of warning sirens on Sunday. At least three Qassam rockets and one mortar were fired at Israel by Palestinian terrorists based in Gaza.
One of the rockets landed inside Palestinian territory, where it exploded upon impact. Two other rockets exploded in open areas in the Eshkol Regional Council, causing no damage to property or injuries.
On Sunday morning Israel's air force targeted a terrorist cell in southern Gaza that was preparing to launch a rocket into Israel. One Palestinian was killed and another wounded in the airstrike, according to Palestinian hospital officials.
Sunday's violence came a day after two Global Jihad operatives were killed when an Israeli aircraft fired a missile at the motorcycle they were riding on in Jabaliya in northern Gaza.
A statement released by the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) said that among the victims was Hisham Saedni, 47, from the Barij village in the Gaza Strip, a founder of the "Shura Council of Mujahedin in Jerusalem," an organization believed to be affiliated with the global al-Qaida terrorist network. The organization is known to have been involved in many terrorist-related incidents against Israeli citizens and soldiers. It has also taken responsibility for a Grad rocket attack on Netivot on Friday night in which a home was damaged.
Saedni and Ashraf al-Sabah, the other person killed, were leaders, respectively, of the Tawhid wa-Jihad and Ansar Al-Sunna groups, two Salafi sources told Reuters. The movements share al-Qaida's vision of global jihad and opposed the more "pragmatic" Islamism espoused by Hamas and Cairo's politically dominant Muslim Brotherhood.
"Their blood will be a light to guide the holy warriors through the right path and will be fire that will burn the Jews," one of the sources told Reuters, saying reprisals would not be limited to the short-range rocket launches that are Gaza terrorists' favored mode of attack on Israel.
Residents of communities in the western Negev, meanwhile, were becoming increasingly agitated in light of the lack of practical steps being taken to end the rocket fire, while reiterating their ongoing demand to complete the construction of fortified spaces in their homes. Netivot Mayor Yehiel Zohar asked the defense establishment to redeploy the Iron Dome rocket interception system in the area, after a home was damaged Friday night after a rocket exploded in its yard.
"The Global Jihad is stepping up its efforts to target us, and we will continue to interdict it with aggression and might, in terms of both response and pre-emption," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli cabinet in Jerusalem on Sunday.
In a sign of Salafi assertiveness in Gaza, about 500 mourners attended Saedni's and Sabah's funerals on Sunday. Some wore the smocks typical of the al-Qaida bastions in Pakistan and Afghanistan but relatively uncommon among Palestinians.
The "council" has been promoting a radical brand of Salafist jihadism for years, and Saedni was incarcerated for a prolonged period by Hamas authorities due to his activities as a member of Islamic Jihad. Since his release from a Hamas prison in August, Hamas has reportedly been planning a multipronged attack on Israel from the Sinai Peninsula with the help of Gaza Strip- and Sinai-based operatives.
In addition to the attack on Friday, the IAF also struck two terrorist targets in the central Gaza Strip in response to the Grad attack on Netivot.
An IDF spokesman said, "The IDF will not tolerate any attack on Israeli citizens and soldiers and will continue to operate with resolve and force against anyone who conducts terrorist activities against Israel. The Hamas organization is the address and they are responsible."