Some 20,000 Palestinians demonstrated in five locations along the Israeli-Gaza border on Friday, in what Israel described a Hamas-orchestrated riot to breach the security fence and infiltrate into Israel.
The Times of Israel reported that demonstrators threw rocks and firebombs at Israeli troops on the other side of the fence and burned hundreds of tires and scraps of wood. The IDF also thwarted attempts to activate bombs against the troops under the cover of smoke from the riots. In the thick of the smoke, the Israeli military shot a Palestinian journalist who was wearing a press vest.
Israel said it opened fire when necessary to stop damage to the border fence, infiltrations and attempted terrorist attacks. Hamas, the Islamist terrorist group which is in complete political and military control of the Gaza Strip, is seeking to use the riots as cover to carry out violence.
“The IDF views with great severity the Hamas terror organization endeavors to turn the security fence parameter into a combat zone while attempting to damage security and defense infrastructure,” the army said in a statement Monday.
According to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, 31 Palestinian have so far been killed in the riots which erupted two weeks ago. Israel so far has not provided an official death toll, but confirmed that the army had positively identified several of the casualties as terrorists. The men were members of Palestinian terrorist groups, including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Brigade.
Friday’s riots were part of a campaign Hamas launched to trigger a war with Israel or, if they fall short, generate negative coverage of Israel as Israeli security forces try to deescalate the situation. Demonstrations are aiming to culminate in a larger border riot on May 15, the 70th anniversary of Israel founding.
[Photo: Daily Mail / YouTube]