Kirsters Baish| It was reported by Palestinian sources that at least 12 Palestinians are dead with hundreds more injured after IDF gunfire at the Israel-Gaza border. Thousands of Palestinians were swarming the security fence in what they called “The Great March of Return.”
It was the bloodiest scene Gaza has witnessed in months. Nine Palestinians were killed during the clashes. A farmer was also killed by tank fire in a different incident. Two others were killed by IDF tank fire at an observation post.
The IDF stated that two Palestinians were members of Hamas’s elite Nukhba force. The Terrorists who were killed ranged in ages from 18 to 30.
It was said by the Palestinian Health Ministry that 1,000 people were injured during the clashes. Injuries were caused by live bullets and rubber-coated steel pellets. Some were sprayed with tear gas. At least 400 protesters who were burning tires and throwing stones were hit with gunfire. It was said that the military used a drone to drop tear gas.
Around 100,000 Palestinians were expected to join the demonstration, but only around 30,000 showed up.
A free bus service was provided by organizers in order to bring Gazans to the border. They also spent funds on construction of the tent encampments and a public campaign which yielded minimal results.
That’s not all; Palestinian witnesses claimed that thousands met inside the tents which were placed at five sites, but only some took part in the clashes.
As the protest turned chaotic, the IDF declared the security fence on the Gaza Strip border a closed military zone and began dispersing demonstrators using riot control measures and firing at major instigators with live rounds.
An IDF force caught a seven-year-old Palestinian girl attempting to cross the border fence, and returned her back to her parents in Gaza.
The IDF said that the girl was encouraged to attempt to cross by Hamas, which “endangers women and children and uses them cynically.”
GOC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir said that IDF forces spotted attempts to carry out terrorist attacks, including planting explosive charges on the security fence, under the cover of the mass demonstration. No IDF troops have been hurt in the clashes.
IDF officials believe that as of early Friday evening, the clashes will keep coming.
IDF’s spokesman, Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis, explained, “We didn’t allow any crossing of the border fence so far, and no significant damage has been caused to our infrastructure near the fence. What’s been happening since this morning is a violent terror protest. We’re still in the midst of the event. So far, we’ve succeeded in our mission, and anywhere there was an attempt to damage the fence, accurate fire was used with strength, determination and discretion.”
He warned, “We have information about plans to carry out many terror attacks during the rioting. A significant terror incident will lead to a response by us that will not be limited to the border fence area.”
Hamas explained that “The March of Return” is meant to be a peaceful demonstration that lasts for weeks. It is meant to advocate the return of Palestinian refugees to Israel.
IDF sees the march as a hostile demonstration from the Hamas in order to sabotage IDF infrastructure as well as the Gaza security fence. They are concerned about a border breach.
Hamas leadership paid visits to different protest locations. Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the Hamas political bureau, was east of Gaza City. Yahya Sinwar, Hamas leader in Gaza, was at the southern Gaza Strip. Gaza Interior Minister Fathi Hamad was at the northern Gaza Strip.
Palestinians have been demanding that as many as five million of their people be given the right to come home. Israel fears that such a high influx of Muslims would crush its current Jewish majority.