Saturday, March 31, 2018

Israel Threatens To Expand Response If Gaza Clashes Continue

Israel says it will expand response if Gaza clashes go on

The Israeli military said Saturday that if violence drags on along the Gaza border, Israel will expand its reaction to strike the terrorists behind it.
IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis said the military has thus far restricted its response to those trying to breach its border, but if attacks continue it will go after terrorists “in other places, too.”
Thousands of Palestinians marched to Gaza’s border with Israel on Friday in the largest such demonstration in recent memory, calling for Palestinians to be allowed to return to land that their ancestors fled from in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said 16 Palestinians were killed and over 1,400 injured by Israel during the mass protests. It said more than 750 people were hurt by live rounds.
Manelis said all those killed were engaged in violence. He said Gaza health officials exaggerated the number of those wounded, and that several dozen at most were injured by live fire while the rest were merely shaken up by tear gas and other riot dispersal means.
A spokesman for Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital said it received 284 injured people Friday, the majority with bullet injuries. Ayman Sahbani said 70 were under the age of 18 and 11 were women.
He said 40 surgeries were performed Friday and that 50 were planned Saturday. “These are all from live bullets that broke limbs or caused deep, open wounds with damage to nerves and veins,” he said.
Around 200 demonstrators protested near the Gaza border on Saturday noon, according to Palestinian media.
The local Shehab news agency reported protests east of Jabaliya and Khan Younis. It said the Israeli military fired at some of the demonstrators, and that two were injured.
Shehab also claimed that the bodies of two demonstrators killed on Friday were in Israeli hands.
On Friday evening, Gaza’s Hamas leaders called on protesters to retreat from the border area until Saturday.
Protest organizers have said mass marches would continue until May 15, the 70th anniversary of Israel’s creation. Palestinians mark that date as their “nakba,” or catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands were uprooted during the 1948 war over Israel’s creation. The vast majority of Gaza’s 2 million people are descendants of Palestinians who fled or were driven from homes in what is now Israel.
Manelis reiterated Saturday that Israel “will not allow a massive breach of the fence into Israeli territory.”
He said that Hamas and other Gaza terror groups are using protests as a cover for staging attacks. If violence continues, “we will not be able to continue limiting our activity to the fence area and will act against these terror organizations in other places too,” he said.
The violence appeared to die down after sundown, but the army said it was remaining on high alert amid fears of persisting attacks, including infiltration attempts and rocket fire. Tanks and jets bombed Hamas sites in the early evening, after two Gazans opened fire on troops, the IDF said.
Hadashot news reported Saturday morning that three rockets were launched from the Strip towards Israel overnight following the demonstrations, but that all three fell inside Gaza.
The Palestinian Authority declared Saturday a day of mourning for those killed.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas said Israel was “fully responsible” for the violence. In a speech broadcast on Palestine TV, Abbas said he has asked the United Nations to immediately work toward providing protection for the “defenseless” Palestinians. “The large number of martyrs and injured in peaceful demonstrations affirms the need for the international community to intervene to provide protection for our people,” Abbas said.

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