The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry says that six Palestinians were killed and some 1,070 were wounded during Friday’s border clashes. Hamas is singlehandedly responsible for each of those deaths and injuries.
The actual casualty count cannot be immediately verified. The Hamas terrorist organization has a history of distorting casualty numbers. It is not immediately clear how many of the dead and wounded are civilians, or terrorists using civilians as cover to attack Israeli troops or breach the Israel-Gaza border barrier. The riots are taking place along a border that is about 1.2 miles from the closest Israeli community.
These are not peaceful protests. We are witnessing a violent campaign entirely orchestrated by Hamas, which has been cynically utilizing Palestinian protesters to stir up tension along the Gaza border out of sheer desperation over its increasingly fragile predicament. Embedded with the protesters are professional jihadists from major Palestinian terrorist factions carrying out attacks at the border. Hamas is placing the lives of the protesters in danger, involving them in an organized militant assault against the border of a sovereign nation that must protect itself.
Just like last Friday’s deadly chaos, Hamas organized today’s mass riots under the banner of the “March of Return”, seeking to escalate protests the next few weeks leading up to Israel’s 70th Anniversary celebrations later this month and the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May.
The Times of Israel, citing news agencies, reported on today’s riots in which Palestinians openly attacked Israeli troops attempting to fortify the border against the planned assault:
Tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered along the Gaza border on Friday, burning tires and throwing firebombs and rocks at Israeli soldiers, who responded with tear gas and live fire, the army and witnesses said, as Palestinians held a second “March of Return” protest.
Hamas said six Gazans were killed by Israeli fire as of 7:30 p.m. The IDF said it thwarted multiple efforts to breach the border fence — and that it used live fire to do so in some instances — as well as attempts to activate bombs against the troops under the cover of smoke.
Palestinians were burning tires, sending thick plumes of black smoke into the air; others threw Molotov cocktails and stones at Israeli soldiers over the border fence, who responded with tear gas and live fire, witnesses said.
IDF footage shows Palestinians attempting to breach the border barrier under the cover of smoke from burning tires.
Over the past hour, rioters have attempted to damage & cross the security fence under the cover of smoke from their burning tires. They also attempted to carry out terror attacks & hurl of explosive devices & firebombs pic.twitter.com/g8fk9N4vcT
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDFSpokesperson) April 6, 2018
IDF Spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus accused Hamas of utilizing the protesters as a diversion to “open up the fence and then to insert terrorists into Israel.”
Hamas has been encouraging the violence, announcing on Thursday it will compensate those injured or the families of those killed, ranging from $200 to $500 per injury to $3,000 for a death. Hamas has also been instructing all protesters to mask their faces.
There can be no question that terrorists are operating among the throngs of civilian rioters. Indeed, Hamas itself provided evidence that it is cynically utilizing the cover of civilian demonstrators to attack Israel, thus drawing Israeli fire toward the crowds. Last Saturday, Hamas released photographs of five members of its so-called military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades jihad unit, announcing they were among the 16 Gazans reportedly killed one day earlier, during the first border riots.
Hamas stated that the five jihadists were killed while taking part “in popular events side-by-side with their people.” In other words, the terrorists were killed most likely attempting to carry out attacks while surrounded by civilian protesters. The IDF said the Hamas members disguised themselves among the civilian protesters.
Of the 16 Palestinians reportedly killed during last week’s border riots, the IDF says that 10 were members of Palestinian terrorist groups, publishing their names and jihadist positions. (An updated Hamas casualty count claims 23 Palestinians were killed in Gaza the past week, mostly last Friday).
At least 10 known terrorists with track records of terrorist activity were killed whilst carrying out acts of terror during the violent riots along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip on Friday March 30, 2018
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDFSpokesperson) March 31, 2018
Last Friday, this reporter analyzed some of the reasons Hamas may have organized the mass protests:
The Islamist terrorist group understands the Gaza population is frustrated that 11 years of Hamas rule has resulted in destructive wars – launched each time by Hamas itself – and an economy dangerously teetering on the brink of collapse. Hamas’s decision to turn Gaza into a terrorist enclave has prompted an Israel-Egypt boycott that has impacted all aspects of Gaza life, although Israel allows for truckloads of humanitarian goods and supplies per day to enter Gaza.
Gazan’s are also suffering from the Hamas-Fatah divide, with the rulers of the West Bank and Gaza Strip failing to reach a reconciliation agreement that would likely result in the flow of aid to Gaza.
Hamas views Israel’s upcoming 70th anniversary and President Donald Trump’s historic decision to relocate the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem as perfect opportunities to channel Gazans anger and redirect the rage toward the easiest target – Israel.
Hamas knows the ensuing casualty count will bring international news media attention to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and it will thrust the issue to the forefront of the foreign policy debate.
The border clashes may also press Egypt into easing the blockade and putting Egyptian pressure on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party to reach a reconciliation deal since Gaza tensions usually favor the jihadists operating against Egypt in the Sinai. Abbas must fear that the protests could spread to the West Bank and threaten his rule there.
Lastly, Hamas may also be signaling to Iran and to other potential state patrons that Hamas is still the dominant player in Gaza and that it is useful to financially support the terrorist movement once again.
In failing to provide the full context for the deadly border riots, the news media are unwittingly helping Hamas achieve its objectives.
Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, speaking at the site of one of the riots on Friday, seemed to lend credence to the above analysis that Hamas is seeking to turn Gazans anger toward Israel and away from his own Islamist terrorist group, which rules the coastal enclave. “We’ve come out today to tell the world that Gaza is free,” he said. “The blockade and the hunger have failed at turning the people of Gaza against the resistance.”
Sinwar added: “If we explode, we will explode at the Israeli occupation.”
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.