After Gaza Border Blast, Israeli Army to Step Up Measures Against Palestinian Protesters

Military official says 'violent confrontations on the border serve as a cover for terror activity'

A Palestinian demonstrator shouts during clashes with Israeli troops, near the border with Israel in the southern Gaza Strip, February 16, 2018.

The Israel Defense Forces said Monday it will use harsher tactics to stop violent Palestinian demonstrations along the border fence in the southern Gaza Strip.

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In the wake of the explosive device that wounded four Israeli soldiers near the Gazan border fence, the IDF warned Gazans: “Starting today, the IDF will adopt harsher means against rioters on the Gaza Strip border.”

In recent months about 15 Palestinians were killed in the course of riots on the border of the Gaza Strip, and over 400 others were wounded.

The message was conveyed by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, who posted a video on Al-Monsiq, the COGAT Facebook page in Arabic.

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The explosive device, which injured four soldiers from the Engineering Corps and Golani Brigade who came to check the border fence and a Palestinian flag that was hung on the fence, turned out to be concealed inside a flagpole that was attached to the flag.

Mordechai warned Gazan residents to stop the violent rioting on the border, stressing: “You’d better stop with that now, go and demonstrate against Hamas in Gaza.”

The IDF has expressed concern that the demonstrations next to the fence could cause a heating up of the sector.

One severe incident is likely to lead to a greater confrontation, in the IDF’s view, and it has decided not only to crack down harder on protesters, but to prevent their arrival at the demonstration sites. The IDF says the protests are taking place on demand from Hamas, adding that Hamas controls the location, the number of demonstrators and the intensity of the protests.

“We know that the violent confrontations on the border serve as a cover for terror activity, as happened last Shabbat, and we won’t let that happen,” Mordechai added. “The violent confrontations on the border endanger those who participate in them. You should be aware that the Hamas terror organization is exploiting you for its own interests – senior Hamas officials simply send you to do the work for them, while risking your lives. You won’t see the children of the Hamas leadership even approaching the border.”