(June 6, 2018 / Israel Hayom) Several small protests were noted on Tuesday on the Israel-Gaza border as the Palestinians marked “Naksa Day,” which mourns the Arab defeat in the 1967 Six-Day War.
Hamas, the terrorist group that controls the coastal enclave, had originally called for a mass rush of the Israeli border, but early on Tuesday morning its leaders called on Gazans to “save their energy” for Friday—the last Friday of the Ramadan holiday, which this year coincided with Iran Quds (“Jerusalem”) Day.
Defense officials said the move is an attempt by Hamas to show Iran that the Islamist group serves Tehran’s interests in a bid to increase Iran’s financial support of it.
Hamas rival in Gaza, Islamic Jihad, does the majority of Iran’s bidding in Gaza. For example, the defense establishment believes that Iran had ordered Islamic Jihad to carry out the mortar salvo on Israel last week, during which more than 130 projectiles were fired at border-adjacent communities.
Hamas’s decision also appears to stem from its own distress, as all signs are pointing to it rapidly losing the support of Gaza’s residents.
Still, Israeli defense officials believe that despite Hamas’s strategic distress, provoking a security escalation opposite Israel does not serve its interest at this time. This distress may also drive its leaders to agree to compromises they would otherwise not consider.
Last week’s mortar barrage, however, undermined the understandings reached between Israel and Hamas following “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014, and the military is ready for any rapid escalation in the Gaza sector.
Meanwhile, Palestinian kite terrorism continued to rage Tuesday, as 15 fires were sparked by incendiary kites sent over the Israel-Gaza border.
More than 350 fires have been sparked in Israeli communities near the border since the Palestinians launched their incendiary kites campaign in late April, reducing some 7,000 acres of forest and agricultural land into ash, and causing tens of millions of shekels in damage.
The massive damage to the area’s nature reserves has prompted the Jewish National Fund to announced plans to pursue legal action against Hamas in international courts.
“The international community cannot allow Hamas to get away with its heinous crimes, not only against Israel but also against the environment. Hamas has proven that it is indifferent not only to human life, but also to nature’s resources,” said JNF director Daniel Atar.
Israeli farmers whose lands have been devastated by these fires announced plans last month to seek International Criminal Court action against Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Yahya Sinwar over the damage caused by kite terrorism.