(December 24, 2018 / JNS) Egypt is taking steps to prevent another security escalation on the Israel-Gaza Strip border following last week’s violent demonstrations, Lebanon’s al-Akhbar newspaper reported Monday.
Hamas and other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip threatened on Sunday to “test” Israel, hinting at potential aggression this Friday at the weekly border demonstration.
Hamas has been orchestrating weekly border protests, dubbed the “March of Return,” since late March. Many have turned into riots, and the Palestinians say that more than 150 people have been killed and at least 10,000 have been injured since the demonstrations began.
On Friday, 8,000 Palestinians took part in the weekly protest. Although most demonstrators kept their distance from the border, several did clash with Israeli security forces. Gaza’s Health Ministry said four Palestinians were killed and 25 others were wounded.
The IDF said the protesters burned tires, and hurled stones and explosive devices at the troops, who responded with crowd control measures and sporadic live fire.
Hamas, Islamic Jihad and several other terrorist factions in Gaza issued a joint statement Sunday saying, “The cowardly Zionist enemy has committed another crime against our people.”
It went on to describe that “last Friday, enemy snipers shot unarmed demonstrators on the border, murdering four and injuring dozens. All the shahids [‘martyrs’] were shot from a distance of 300 to 600 meters [985 to 1,970 feet] from the border fence, confirming that the Zionist snipers deliberately fired at the shahids and the wounded, even though they posed no threat to the occupation’s soldiers.
“The criminal acts of the Zionist occupation against our people have crossed the line and the resistance will not stand idly by. Next Friday will be a decisive day, and we will test the intentions and conduct of the Zionist enemy,” the statement said.
According to al-Akhbar’s report, Egyptian intelligence officials have asked the Palestinian groups to provide them with proof that the IDF indeed targeted protesters who did not pose a threat to Israeli troops.
Cairo has relayed an Israeli message to Hamas saying Israel has no interest in a security escalation, and that it remains committed to recent understandings that have resulted in a dramatic decline in the border violence.
The understandings were reached following a flare-up in November—the worst clash between Israeli forces and Hamas since 2014.
Egyptian defense officials were expected to meet with Hamas officials in Gaza on Monday.