Islamic Jihad published a video Thursday threatening Israeli soldiers ahead of the weekly demonstration along the Israel-Gaza border this Friday.
The clip shows the group’s operatives looking through the scope of a rifle at Israeli military figures, including Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories. The video ends with a slide reading, “You’re killing our people in cold blood and think that you’re protected, but our snipers’ sights are on your top commanders.”
According to Palestinian officials, Israeli soldiers have killed 34 people and injured hundreds more, many by live fire, since the beginning of the weekly demonstrations. The deaths sparked widespread criticism of Israel by both human rights groups and foreign leaders.
Speaking at J Street's annual conference Sunday, Senator Bernie Sanders said Israel "massively overreacted" to the protests. "The presence of Hamas members among a crowd of tens of thousands does not justify the level of violence we saw," Sanders said.
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The fence on the Israel-Gaza border is backed by a second fence inside the Strip, and the army’s rules of engagement allow snipers to shoot anyone who enters the region between the two fences with apparent intent to breach the border. However, they are supposed to aim only at the lower body, unless the person is armed and appears to pose a threat to the soldiers. In that case, they are allowed to shoot to kill.
The army says there have been numerous attempts to breach the border and attack soldiers, including with firebombs, during previous demonstrations along the fence. The protests are part of the "March of Return" and have been taking place every Friday for three weeks thus far. The protests are set to culminate on May 15, on Nakba day. The U.S. embassy is set to be opened in Jerusalem on the same day.
Last Tuesday, Israel attacked a Hamas outpost in response to shots fired at soldiers from an area close to where the weekly protests take place. The Palestinian Healthy Ministry reported no casualties in the strike.
The incident came days after the Israeli military destroyed a Hamas attack tunnel located near the site of the marches. According to Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the tunnel was the "longest and deepest exposed so far," and cost Hamas millions of dollars.