Israel warned Palestinians on Thursday against what it called the "dangerous" plan to march on the border with Gaza for Land Day on Friday, as part of nine different talking points published by the Foreign Ministry and sent out to its officials.
The main point stressed to Israeli diplomats around the globe was that any violence that takes place during the March of Return would be on Hamas' heads. Palestinians who are organizing the rally and spoke with Haaretz said the march will not be violent and that Israel's comments indicate the army will responds violently to demonstrators.
The English-language document, titled the "Hamas-led Confrontation Campaign," details the main points of Israel's public diplomacy on the Friday march on the Gaza border:
- The campaign organized by Palestinian leaders is in fact a dangerous, premeditated provocation meant to fan the flames of the conflict and increase tension.
- Israel has the right to defend its borders and to prevent infiltration into its sovereign territory.
- In the last two weeks, there has been an increase in terror attacks on Israel, supported and encouraged by Palestinian leaders.
- For almost eleven years, Hamas has ruled the Gaza Strip, preferring to continue the conflict at the expense of the welfare of the Gazan people.
- Hamas uses its resources for armament, smuggling tunnels, and other military purposes, instead of investing in the civilian infrastructures in Gaza.
- Hamas is spending more than $10 million to finance the current confrontation campaign, paying Gazans to get them to participate.
- Hamas's primary goal remains to destroy Israel.
- Hamas continues to exploit the civilian population of Gaza as human shields.
- Israel continues its humanitarian support of Gaza, allowing entry of goods, electricity and water as well as the passage of people via Israel for medical reasons.
Israel's defense establishment believes that the army will succeed in preventing Gazans from crossing the border into Israel during the March of Return scheduled for Friday, even if that means Palestinian deaths.
Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, a member of the PLO's executive committee, told Haaretz that these talking points show "that Israel is preparing itself to explain a violent response. This is more proof that Israel’s intentions are to kill protesters. It’s a license to kill. The event is not organized just by Hamas, but by all the Palestinian groups. We call on all the international organizations to prevent a massacre from taking place. This is peaceful nonviolent resistance."
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Ofir Gendelman, the Prime Minister's Office spokesman in Arabic, tweeted: "Would it not be a shame? That's what will happen to those who will try to cross the border between Gaza and Israel. As every Palestinian in Gaza knows, Hamas does not sent its leaders to the border and it knows very well why," he wrote on Twitter.
"Do not get dragged into their attempts to take advantage of you during the #FaudaMarch," using the Arabic term for chaos, adding: "You've been warned."
Ahmed Abu Ratima, a spokesperson for the march's organizers, spoke with reporters in Gaza and said that "thousands of people are expected to participate and only Palestinian flags will be waved – not flags of any one of the Palestinian factions." He also said that the "march will be nonviolent."
A member of the committee organizing the rally spoke to Haaretz and said Hamas has dedicated resources and budgets for the event, but was not paying people to participate. "The world needs to understand that we're living in a prison and that every citizen of Gaza feels that and wants to make that known," they said.
"Israel needs to understand that the issue of returning to our lands is a core issue for every Palestinian refugee and the goal of the march is to say enough: Enough with the blockade, enough with the occupation. It does not take much to get people out to protest."
Defense officials said Gaza residents do not seem eager to take part in the event, but Hamas is making efforts to bring as many of them as possible to the fence on Friday. As a result, the troops may have to deal with a particularly large demonstration.
Over the last few days the Israel Defense Forces has warned that it would open fire on anyone who tries to breach the border fence and enter Israel.