50 of Dead in Gaza Protests Were Hamas Activists, Says Senior Hamas Official

A video of Dr. Salah Albardawil shows him making the claim in response to the suggestion that Hamas sent youths to die at the fence as political fodder

Dr. Salah Albardawil
Screen capture from Twitter

Fifty of the 62 Palestinians reported killed during Monday's bloody protests along the Gaza border were Hamas activists, said a senior Hamas official on Wednesday.

Israel Defense Forces spokesperson for Arab media tweeted a video of senior Hamas official Dr. Salah Albardawil in which he claims 50 of the approximately 60 dead in protests along the Israel-Gaza border Monday were members of Hamas. His claim followed a question posed by the interviewer about claims that Hamas sent youths to die in the protests as political fodder.

On Tuesday ,Islamic Jihad published a statement saying three of the 62 killed were members of that organization's military wing. An Islamic Jihad official told Haaretz that Israel's attempt to pin a terrorist label on every casualty was pathetic. 

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Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other factions, he said, are part of the Palestinian people, and those killed at the fence were making a legitimate civil protest while unarmed.

"This does not authorize the Israeli army to slaughter them. Did anyone of them carry a weapon or endanger a soldier?" said the official. 

Among those killed in this week's protest was the son of Hamas co-founder Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi. One of the 2,770 wounded is the son of Hamas senior political leader Ismail Haniyeh.

On Tuesday, Israeli security forces said that at least 24 out of the 62 Palestinians killed during Monday's protests on the Gaza border were militants – most of them members of Hamas and some of Islamic Jihad.

Also on Tuesday, Gaza health officials cast doubt on initial claims that a nine-month-old baby died from Israeli tear gas fired during mass protests on the Gaza border with Israel.

A doctor said Tuesday that the baby, Layla Ghandour, had a pre-existing medical condition and that he did not believe her death was caused by tear gas. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to disclose medical information to the media.

Layla’s family claimed Tuesday that the baby had ended up in the area of the protest as a result of a mix-up. The Gaza Health Ministry initially counted her among several dozen Palestinians killed Monday.

A Gaza human rights group, Al Mezan, says it is looking into the circumstances of the infant’s death.

Hamas refused to accept to medical aid trucks sent by the IDF on Tuesday as relief for those wounded in the clashes. After the Kerem Shalom crossing reopened, trucks carrying medical equipment and basic neccesities began entering the Strip. Four of them belonged to the Palestinian Authority, two of which were UNICEF and two more were sent by the IDF. Hamas refused to accept the supplies from the truck and ordered its men not to unload them.