Saturday, October 20, 2018

Clashes On Gaza Border Resume: Over 100 Palestinians Wounded, Israeli Officials Consider If Hamas Changing Tactics

More than 100 Palestinians wounded in clashes at Gaza-Israel border

More than 100 Palestinians were reported wounded in violent clashes on Friday afternoon as thousands of demonstrators protested close to the fence, burning tires and throwing rocks at Israeli military positions along the Gaza border.
The violence came despite calls from Hamas leaders and warnings from the IDF to keep the Friday protests peaceful and to stay away from the border fence.
However, Israeli defense officials said it was the quietest protests since the “March of Return” began on March 30. According to their estimations, Hamas may have stationed armed men close to the fence to try to minimize the violence, the Ynet news site reported.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said 130 Palestinians were hurt, including 77 hit by live fire.
The IDF said that protesters broke through the fence in three locations before immediately returning to the coastal enclave, with Israeli soldiers opening fire at the suspects in one case.
In addition, an IDF aircraft opened fire at a group of Palestinians launching incendiary balloons at Israel from the southern Gaza Strip, the army said. There were no immediate reports of injuries from the airstrike.
Thousands of protesters are said to have attended the demonstration. The IDF sent text messages on Friday to residents of the coastal enclave, warning them not to approach the fence, Palestinians said.
The violence broke out despite one of the main organizers of the protests calling on participants on Thursday night to behave nonviolently in the demonstration, following a flareup between Israel and the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group that threatened to spark all-out war.
“The most important message tomorrow is the masses gathering in a peaceful manner,” Khaled al-Batsh, a senior leader of the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group and an organizer of the march, wrote in a statement.
According to reports, Egypt had warned Hamas that renewed protests would bring a heavy Israeli response.
In his statement, al-Batsh also thanked the Egyptian military intelligence delegation for its work bringing about a limited ceasefire with Israel on Wednesday and Thursday.
He also said the delegation was due to visit the Gaza Strip again the following week to continue the negotiation efforts.

Israeli officials believe Hamas has changed its policies regarding protests on the Gaza border, and is working towards curbing violence at the rallies which have become a near-daily occurrence, Hadashot TV news reported Friday night.
Jerusalem believes the terror group that rules the coastal enclave is moderating the demonstrations in order to give a chance to Egyptian mediators seeking to strike a deal between Hamas and Israel for a long-term truce in Gaza, the report said.
Meanwhile Haaretz reported that Israeli defense officials wish to respond to the more limited rallies in Gaza on Friday by renewing fuel supplies to the Strip. The officials have said in closed deliberations that Hamas’s efforts to limit the violence should be taken advantage of to create positive momentum towards a calm.

Last Friday Israel halted the transfer of fuel to Gaza in response to heavy rioting and attacks at the border fence.
According to the newspaper security officials hope to renew supplies to Gaza as early as Sunday, to send a positive message to Hamas. It was not clear whether Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman supports such action. Liberman said last week Israel would not allow any more fuel into Gaza until violence against Israel was stopped “entirely.”

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