Residents of Netiv HaAsara, near northern Gaza, say Islamist terror group has been fortifying positions, conducting observation of IDF patrols.

Only four months have passed since the end of Operation Protective Edge and signs on the ground point to a speedy recovery by Hamas. Aside from the cross-border fire from Gaza, in which an IDF border was wounded on Wednesday, Ynet was told the Islamist terror group has constructed new military positions and forward command posts.

In northern Gaza, across from Netiv HaAsara, residents have spotted dirt hills, fortifications, and ramps only several hundred meters from their homes. Pictures obtained by Ynet show Hamas’ construction activity, including forward positions, adorned with the Gazan group’s signature green flag.

The new reality on the ground is of deep concern to the local residents. “Hamas has been busy recently in gathering intelligence and in observation. We have noticed that the new lookout posts were manned at all hours of the day and even for parts of the night.”

Locals said that the heavy machinery used to construct the military posts and the forward fortifications in the northern Strip were visible to the naked eye. “They are examining the IDF’s movements in the area and at strategic points along the border. It shows a high level of self-confident and a clear lack of fear of IDF forces,” said one of the residents.

At the moshav, the locals closely monitor the progress on the other side of the border. It appears that the Palestinians are working in the area which formerly comprised the settlement of Nisanit – before the Israeli withdrawal from the Strip.

“Just the fact that they have Hamas flags on the ground send their message home,” said Shayke Shaked from Netiv HaAsara. “The activity there is definitely worrying. I certainly hope the IDF is following the developments and will make the correct calls.”

Hamas flags fly over new positions in northern Gaza (Photo: Bar-el Efraim)

Earlier Wednesday, an IDF soldier was seriously wounded after an IDF patrol convoy sustained sniper fire near the southern Strip around noon, prompting the army to return fire into Gaza, in the most serious escalation along the southern border since the violent 50-day summer conflict ended.

Palestinian medical sources said Tayseer al-Ismary, 33, was killed “as a result of gunfire and shrapnel from a tank shell” in the incident east of the southern city of Khan Yunis.

Photo: Hamas outposts near Netiv HaAsara (Photo: Bar-el Efraim)

Hamas sources said he was a member of its military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades.

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz said that the armed forces had “no intention to allow events such as this to occur unanswered.” Gantz, who spoke at the Calcalist Conference, said that the IDF “responded appropriately and we will act in an appropriate and powerful manner as any incident demands.”

Over the weekend, a Code Red siren sounded in the Eshkol Regional Council, an Israeli community close to the Israel Gaza border, and was soon followed by blasts, residents reported – indicating that a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed in Israel.

In early November another Code Red siren, indicating an incoming rocket from Gaza, was sounded during morning hours in Israel’s Gaza-border communities. The rocket fell a few meters into Israeli territory inside the Eshkol Regional Council. A few days later, shots were fired towards the Erez border crossing, according to an initial report.

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