In an apparent threat to Israel, the leader of Hamas, the Gaza-based terrorist organization, said that next week’s riots at the border fence with Israel would be “decisive,” The Times of Israel reported Thursday.
The Hamas-led riots, which had originally been described as non-violent, involve rioters attempting to tear down the border fence with Israel, throwing rocks at soldiers, and sending kites over the fence with burning fuel in attempts to start fires inside Israel. Last week, rioters entered the Kerem Shalom crossing and set storage facilities on fire, including pipelines that bring gas into Gaza. Friday’s planned riot is the seventh consecutive week that riots will be held.
Yahya Sinwar, the Gaza-based leader of Hamas, said that the riot next week planned for May 14, the day the United States Embassy is slated to open in Jerusalem, will be “decisive.” Israel imposed the blockade when Hamas expelled Fatah, the main Palestinian political party, from Gaza in 2007 and took control of the enclave. Hamas remains committed to Israel’s destruction, has accumulated an arsenal of rockets, and built terror tunnels with the aim of attacking Israel.
“We can’t stop these protests. We are supporting, even leading, them,” Sinwar said. The riots will be “like a tiger running in all directions,” he said.
Hamas has claimed that the goal of the riots is to gain the “right” to return to all of Israel, meaning the destruction of Israel. Israel has charged that the goal is to cover for violent activities including efforts to breach the border fence.
Sinwar made the comments in a speech to activists, who have been leading the riots. According to the Times, Hamas has been indicating that it could encourage the rioters to storm the fence.
The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza claims that 48 rioters have died since the first one on March 30. According to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, which uses publicly available information to identify casualties, 80% of the rioters who have been killed were a member of, or otherwise affiliated with terrorist organizations.
In a conference call hosted by The Israel Project, Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Israel Ziv, former head of IDF’s Gaza Division, assessed that the rioters would use grenades, improvised explosives, “anything that can fly over the fence and burn.” He added, “we don’t expect anything terribly new.” However, if Hamas attempts to use the riot to “maneuver a terror unit, commando units or things of that kind …, to penetrate to Israel, to go to some of the settlements,” Ziv asserted, “the IDF is ready for those options as well.”
A complete recording of the call is embedded below.
[Photo: Israel’s Foreign Affairs Min. / YouTube ]