Beginning on March 30, 2018 the Islamist terrorist group Hamas, which is in complete political and military control of the Gaza Strip, launched weekly riots at the Gaza-Israeli border, an effort known as “The March of Return.” The IDF has now released a report detailing the environmental, material, and human damage caused by the violence.
The army revealed that “over 1,300 rockets and mortars have been launched towards Israel, resulting in death and injury, property damage, psychological injury and economic harm.” The report observed that the majority of the rockets were fired on Fridays and Saturdays, “immediately after mass violent riots.” In a separate incident, an anti-tank missile launched from Gaza hit a bus in southern Israel, severely wounding a 19-year-old soldier.
Large groups of rioters marched on the border with the intent to breach the security fence and infiltrate the Jewish State – the “peaceful protesters” were carrying guns, knives, stones, explosives, and Molotov cocktails. They also burned thousands of tires and sent kites over Israeli territory with burning objects, causing extensive damage.
The IDF estimates that “thousands of incendiary kites and balloons have been launched into Israel,” causing “over 2,000 separate fires” on Israeli territory. As a result, the army said, 8,500 acres of land were burned, including 3,200 acres of nature reserves and over 2,700 acres of forest.
In addition, incendiary balloons “landed in residential areas, including playgrounds and kindergartens, posing a serious risk to the lives of civilians.” The army explained that “specifically, the use of balloons to deliver incendiary and explosive devices, often attached to objects designed to appear as children’s toys, have had a severe psychological effect on children in Israel.”
Hamas, the organizational mastermind behind the violence, claimed that the riots are a legitimate protest against the December 2017 decision by the United States to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem – a move which enjoys bipartisan political support in Congress.
Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar warned the world should “wait for our great move when we breach the borders and pray at Al-Aqsa.” He was surrounded by hundreds of supporters who chanted, “We are going to Jerusalem, millions of martyrs.”
As part of its perverse strategy, Hamas sent civilians – many of them just children – to threaten Israel’s security and provoke the soldiers who defend it. The army noted, however, that the terrorist group failed to achieve its “primary military aims,” namely, “causing breaches in the security infrastructure and infiltration en masse into Israel in order to conduct military attacks inside Israeli territory.”
In April, the European Parliament voted, for the first time, to condemn Hamas for its acts of terrorism and use of human shields. Members “strongly condemn[ed] the continuous tactic of Hamas to use civilians for the purpose of shielding terrorist activities. … Hamas seems to aim at escalating tensions.”
Ahead of the riots, U.S. envoy Jason Greenblatt said in a statement: “We condemn leaders and protestors who call for violence or who send protestors — including children — to the fence, knowing that they may be injured or killed.”
[Photo: Israel Defense Forces / Flickr ]