Israel’s Military Cancels Leave for Combat Units and Jams GPS Signals

Israel’s military said Thursday it was canceling leave for combat units, calling up more reservists and blocking GPS signals.

The Israeli military did not explicitly cite the reason behind the moves. Israeli newspapers said it came amid fears of an increased threat from Iran. President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran has vowed to punish Israel for killing top Iranian commanders this week in an airstrike in Syria. The attack was one of the deadliest in a decades-long shadow war between the two enemies, and American officials have voiced concerns that it could prompt retaliatory strikes against Israel or its ally, the United States.

The Israeli military said on Wednesday night that it had decided to draft reserve soldiers for its aerial defense unit. It did not provide further details.

An announcement about pausing leave for all combat units came in another brief statement, issued on Thursday morning. The military said the decision — which it described as temporary — was taken given “the latest situational assessment,” adding that Israel is “at war and the deployment of forces is under continuous assessment.”

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the military spokesman, said later on Thursday that Israel also has been disrupting GPS signals over the past day to intercept any threats. He did not attribute those threats to Iran or any group or country in particular.

“During the war, we dealt with a large number of threats launched toward Israel — missiles, UAVs and cruise missiles,” he told a news briefing, referring to unmanned aerial vehicles like drones and adding that “most of them were manufactured in Iran.”

The moves come as Israel’s military is under strain from five months of fighting against Hamas in Gaza. Reservists have been called to serve longer or additional tours of duty, and a fierce national debate over whether ultra-Orthodox Jews should be required to join the army has been reignited.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to press on in Gaza, with a ground invasion of the southern city of Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians have sought refuge. His promise to invade Rafah comes despite mounting calls for a cease-fire and international criticism over Israel’s conduct in the war.

U.S. officials have expressed alarm over the scale of civilian deaths in Gaza and warned that Israel’s plans to invade Rafah could lead to catastrophe. Israel’s deadly strikes on a convoy of aid workers this week amplified those concerns, prompting sharp critiques from President Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III.

Johnatan Reiss contributed reporting.

Back to top button