TEL AVIV – A Hamas co-founder on Sunday confirmed that the bloody Palestinian riots on the Gaza-Israel border are backed by the terror group’s fighters and added that calling the protests part of a “peaceful resistance” is simply a tactic to “deceive the public.”
In an interview with Al Jazeera, senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahhar said “peaceful resistance” against Israel was “a clear terminological deception.”
“When we talk about ‘peaceful resistance,’ we are deceiving the public,” he said. “This is peaceful resistance bolstered by a military force and by security agencies, and enjoying tremendous popular support.”
“When you have weapons that are being wielded by men who were able to prevent the strongest army in the region from entering the Gaza Strip for 51 days, and were able to capture or kill soldiers of that army — is this really ‘peaceful resistance?’” asked al-Zahhar, whose remarks were translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
More than 40,000 Palestinians took part in the violent riots on Monday, ahead of the Palestinian Nakba — Arabic for the “catastrophe” of the establishment of the Jewish state — and coinciding with the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. 60 Palestinians were killed by IDF fire, according to Hamas’s Gaza Health Ministry.
Of those killed, “Most were active Hamas terror organization operatives and some were active operatives of Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” the IDF said.
Footage of the riots shows Palestinian protesters hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails, burning tires, and flying petrol-laden “terror kites” into Israeli territory.
The IDF also released footage of what it said was a foiled attempt by eight armed Hamas terrorists to breach the border.
While the riots were originally slated to end on Nakba Day on Tuesday, Hamas said they would go on indefinitely for the time being.
“We will continue with the protests and it is the Palestinian people who will decide the situation on the ground,” Hamas chief in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh said.
Watch video of al-Zahhar’s comments below:
Senior Hamas Official Mahmoud Al-Zahhar on Gaza Protests: This Is Not Peaceful Resistance, It Is Supported by Our Weapons pic.twitter.com/aut0Q7SPD9
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) May 15, 2018