TEL AVIV – Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman ordered on Saturday the delivery of fuel to the Gaza Strip be suspended following violence on the border, including explosives on the border fence, the launching of incendiary devices and a number of infiltrations into Israeli territory.
“As long as the violence in the Gaza Strip does not stop completely, including the launching of incendiary devices and the burning of tires close to Israeli communities, the supply of fuel and gas to the Gaza Strip will not be resumed,” Liberman said.
The order came days after the UN brokered a deal to transfer Qatari-funded fuel to the Strip. Israel arranged the transfer to the ire of the Palestinian Authority, which said that the move was tantamount to recognition of the Gaza-ruling terror group Hamas.
Four tankers of fuel were transferred to the Strip on Friday morning before the deadly riots broke out.
“Israel will not tolerate a situation in which fuel tankers are allowed to enter Gaza on the one hand, while terrorism and violence are used against IDF soldiers and Israeli citizens on the other,” a statement from Liberman’s office said.
“In addition, Hamas continues to welcome any terrorist attack and encourages the Palestinians, residents of the West Bank, to carry out attacks against Israeli citizens.”
On Saturday,the IDF said a number of Gazans breached the border and infiltrated Israeli territory. “All the suspicious individuals were monitored from the moment they crossed,” a statement by the military said, adding that all had since been returned to the Gaza Strip.
According to the Hamas-run health ministry, seven Palestinians were killed during Friday’s clashes, which were some of the deadliest in recent months, with more than 20,000 Palestinians taking part in riots on the border. Four were killed by Israeli fire when rioters blasted a hole in the border fence with explosives and attempted to storm an army post. More than 20 Gazans were caught crossing the fence and approaching the IDF sniper position.
Rioters burned tires and threw bombs, grenades, rocks and Molotov cocktails at soldiers. Incendiary devices, including a makeshift “blimp,” were launched over the border, sparking more than ten fires.
Some 150 Palestinians have been killed since the riots began in March, according to AP. Hamas has acknowledged that dozens of those killed were its members.
Sergeant Omer Kaplan of the Nesher Battalion’s Combat Intelligence Corps was quoted by the IDF as saying that she saw a group of Palestinians cut through the fence and plant explosives. The ensuing smoke from the bomb allowed dozens more to cross undetected.
“Under the cover of the smoke and the violent rioting, a number of suspects attempted to approach the positions of our forces, but I identified them and told the troops who fired warning shots at them. While most of them turned back, I noticed that one remained, but we then lost sight of him,” she said, adding that as she informed troops that there was definitely another terrorist, one of the soldiers “identified him and neutralized him.”
“This terrorist attempt that was thwarted by an IDF force in a professional and rapid manner prevented attacks against civilians and security forces,” read a statement released by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.
“The Hamas terrorist organization continues to lead violent disturbances in an attempt to carry out terrorist attacks against Israel. The IDF will not allow the fence to be turned into a zone of violence and subterranean warfare, and will continue to act to ensure the security of the residents of the State of Israel,” it added.