White House Backs Israel’s Right to Defend Itself Against Gaza Border Riots

Israeli soldiers guard on top of a watch tower in a community along the Israel- Gaza Strip Border, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. Thousands joined funeral processions Tuesday for some of the dozens of Palestinians killed by Israeli troops in a mass march on the Gaza border, as Israelis faced growing …
AP/Ariel Schalit
Washington, DC

Israel’s right to defend itself from Hamas attacks along the Gaza border was reaffirmed by Principal Deputy White House Press Secretary Raj Shah during Monday’s press briefing.

A reporter contrasted violence along the border of Israel in Gaza on Monday with the “celebratory air in Jerusalem” as the new U.S. embassy opened there that same day. The reporter cited at least 41 deaths as a result of that violence and asked if President Donald Trump was concerned about the “demonstrations there” and Israel’s response to individuals climbing over the border fence.

“The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas,” Shah said, noting that the administration was aware of the “reports of continued violence in Gaza.”

“Hamas is intentionally and cynically provoking this response,” he added. 

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) posted a video on Sunday warning that Hamas was planning to place armed terrorists among many thousands of rioters charging Israel’s border with Gaza. Early Monday morning IDF jets dropped leaflets that warned potential rioters of the repercussions should they attempt to carry out attacks.

Nonetheless, rioters set tires on fire during the day at several positions along the border, hurled rocks at soldiers, and flew “incendiary kites” toward Israel, sparking fire, according to the Times of Israel.

Gaza’s Hamas-run health agency claimed 43 Palestinians killed and hundreds wounded at one point during the Monday riots. The IDF reported that they had shot several individuals who had been planting explosive devices along the border. It later added that others were killed while attempting to fire on Israeli soldiers.

The IDF later identified at least 10 of those killed as members of Hamas. The Hamas health agency later updated its number killed to 52.

Breitbart Jerusalem bureau chief Aaron Klein challenged media reports that cited “Hamas-provided casualty counts and portray[ed] the Gaza rioters as peaceful protesters frustrated that there is no Palestinian state and angry that the U.S. moved its embassy to Jerusalem.”

Shah referenced statements from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, declaring during Monday’s briefing, “Israel has the right to defend itself.”

Shah’s remarks also echoed a prior statement from press secretary Sarah Sanders in response to Iranian regime rocket attacks on Israel, “we strongly support Israel’s right to act in self-defense.”

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