• Palestinians prepare kites near Gaza-Israel border. Photo: Flash90
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Hamas’ ‘March of Return’ In Gaza

Yochanan Visser - 7 June 2018

For more than seven weeks Hamas in Gaza has again been trying to mobilise public opinion in the world against Israel by organising a ‘Great March of Return’ which has been billed as a ‘peaceful protest’ along the Israeli border by Hamas and a significant part of the media.

The goal of this ‘Great March of Return’ was to ‘liberate Palestine’ Hamas leaders announced at the outset of the violence. More than 116 Palestinian Arabs died in the weekly protests which were, in fact, nothing more than violent attempts to infiltrate Israel in order to carry out terror attacks against Israelis.

How do we know?
Hamas members and residents of Gaza have informed us about the true goals of the ‘demonstrations’. The same informants said Hamas even forced children and women to participate in the violence which reached a peak on Monday, 14 May when 62 Palestinian Arabs, among them 53 members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, died in violent confrontations with the IDF.

At the beginning of April, a bus company owner in Gaza told the Israeli authorities that Hamas arrested and jailed bus drivers who refused to ferry Palestinian Arabs to the border protests. Later, Hamas co-founder Mahmoud al- Zahar, during an interview with Al- Jazeera, reacted miffed when his interviewer suggested the protest was ‘peaceful’ and emphasised the armed struggle against Israel was still ‘developing’.

At about the same time, a captured Hamas terrorist explained on video how Hamas forces women and children to enter the frontline during the attempts to infiltrate Israel.The man explained that Hamas organised the violence to prevent a revolt against the organisation in Gaza where the situation is deteriorating by the day not because of the so-called siege but because of Hamas’ mismanagement of public affairs and an internal struggle between the PA and the terrorist organisation.

Hamas tells women and children to go forward in the frontline of the violent protests because “the (Israeli) army doesn’t shoot women and children,” the man said. “People (in Gaza) wear out and are fed up, and I am one of those people,” the man told the Israeli authorities.

Another Palestinian Arab resident of Gaza told the Washington Post (WaPo) the real reason for the protests along the Israeli border is to infiltrate Israel and “to do whatever is possible, to kill, throw stones”. “Young men carried large knives and said they wanted to kill Jews on the other side of the fence,” WaPo reported.

Then, Hamas leader Salah Bardawil reacted in a televised interview to a question about the violence along the Israeli border on 14 May, when 62 Palestinian Arabs died during attempts to breach the security fence and to infiltrate Israel. “Of the 62 people ‘martyred’ 50 were Hamas,” Bardawil said after Islamic Jihad had announced three of its members had also died during the same confrontation with the IDF.

IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus posted the clip with the interview on his Facebook page and wrote “Take his word for it. This was no peaceful protest.” Bardawil’s claim was later supported by the usual publication of ‘martyr announcements’by Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Another under-reported fact was the torching of the Keren Shalom border crossing by Hamas operatives. The terminal which is the main gateway for the delivery of humanitarian goods, commercial supplies, gas and fuel to Gaza was set on fire three times during the violent protests and caused a temporary shut-down of the crossing. IDF engineers were the ones who succeeded to restore the supply of fuel and gas to Gaza after the U.N. declared an emergency situation in the poverty- stricken enclave in southern Israel.

Israel recently decided to change its approach toward the violent protests along the border with Gaza and warned Hamas leaders they would be subject to a renewed assassination policy if the violence didn’t stop. The Israeli army also adjusted its strategy in order to quell the violence and the attempts to torch fields and Israeli communities in the vicinity of Gaza by using kites with explosive devices or Molotov cocktails.

The IDF and IAF repeatedly attacked Hamas terror infrastructure deep into the Gaza Strip and also destroyed newly constructed terror tunnels. IDF volunteers, meanwhile, neutralised the kite terror threat by using small drones which downed the kites before they could reach Israel.It didn’t deter Hamas from carrying out new attempts to infiltrate Israel and to stage new terror attacks.

On Tuesday 22 May, Hamas terrorists crossed into Israel and set a deserted IDF outpost for snipers on fire.The Israeli army responded by shelling a Hamas position in the vicinity of the border and by attacking naval vessels which were preparing for a terror attack in Israel via the sea.

To alleviate the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, Egypt has now finally decided to open the Rafah border crossing in northern Sinai at least during the month-long Ramadan fast.The closure of the Rafah crossing was a collective punishment for Hamas’ assistance to Islamic State in the Sinai Peninsula. In 2017 the crossing was open for just 29 days.

Thousands of Palestinian Arabs are now preparing to leave the Gaza Strip in order to build up a better life in different parts of the world according to the Wall Street Journal.

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