TEL AVIV – Israeli Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi on Sunday warned of a possible “explosion” by the Palestinians ahead of Israel’s 70th Independence Day.
“The month of May, with the days of independence and nakba [catastrophe], signal that a possible explosion is coming, [driven on the Palestinian side by] growing frustration and hopelessness,” The Jerusalem Post quoted Halevi as saying.
Thousands of Palestinians are expected to storm border fences on a planned “day of rage” on Friday to coincide with both Passover eve and Palestinian Land Day, which marks events in 1976 that reflect the Palestinians’ struggle to own the land. Palestinians from Gaza have been urged to set up “tent cities” close to the border and to remain there until what they call Nakba Day – the day of “catastrophe” that marks the establishment of the State of Israel.
Security cabinet officials on Sunday were briefed on how best to deal with erupting protests and violence that may ensue in the coming weeks ahead of Independence Day. Protests are expected to intensify with the scheduled transfer of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
“This period will demand determined fighting against terrorism and that we make a clear distinction between civilians and terrorist operatives,” Halevi said.
“Hamas is at its lowest point because there are civilian and infrastructure crises,” he stated, adding that terrible conditions have led the terror group to exploit “civilians by sending them to the security fence that divides Gaza and Israel.”
Since the U.S. and Europe lifted sanctions against Iran in January last year as part of the nuclear deal, Tehran has increased funds to Hamas and other terror groups in the Gaza Strip from some $10 million to $70 million, the IDF estimated.
“Iran has launched a Shi’ite arrow that has split the region asunder,” Halevi said. “Hamas must understand that running to [Iran] will only worsen its condition.”