Hamas Unit Leading Nighttime Protests Along Gaza Border Threatens Escalation

Unit members who carry out demonstrations along the border between Israel and the Strip say protests will take place every day this week from 7 P.M. until dawn

Palestinian protesters take part in a night demonstration near the fence along the border with Israel on March 19, 2019.

Hamas' so-called ''nighttime unit'' in the Gaza Strip announced Saturday afternoon that it will extend its activity along the border between the coastal enclave and Israel after two Palestinians were killed by live Israeli fire during the weekly demonstration on Friday

Members of the unit arrive at the fence area every night, where they carry out loud demonstrations and hurl firebombs as a means to frighten and deter Israelis living in nearby communities as well as Israel Defense Forces troops stationed in the area. 

Haaretz Weekly, Episode 19Haaretz

>> Read more: Rockets on Tel Aviv on election's eve: Israel and Hamas are on the war path | Analysis ■ Female medic, teen shot in the head: These are the Palestinian deaths the Israeli army is probing 

A statement released by the unit said that it will operate during the coming week throughout the border with Israel between 7 P.M. to the break of dawn.

The unit also stated that it will increase the launching of incendiary balloons toward Israel during the daytime. "Our stance is clear, either they [Israel] lift the blockade [on Gaza] or [Israeli] residents of border communities evacuate," the statement by the unit read. 

Protests by Palestinians have been taking place along the border almost every week for nearly a year, but the nighttime riots are a more recent escalation

Palestinian protesters take part in a night demonstration near the fence along the border with Israel on March 19, 2019.

The unit behind them is considered to be a special and more experienced force within the organization. 

On March 7, a 15-year-old boy who participated in such a demonstration was killed by Israeli forces after he was shot in the head. 

The two Palestinians who were killed Friday were identified by Gaza's Health Ministry as Nedal Abed Alkareem Ahmed Shatat, 29, and 24-year-old Jehad Monier Khaled Harara.

Two more Palestinians were critically wounded in Friday's protest.

One of them was shot in the chest  while protesting east of the El Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, the report by the ministry said, and stated that 55 other Palestinians were wounded in the clashes thus far.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, who was present in the area of the protest, said: "The marches of return are a tool of resistance to the siege on Gaza, and a clear statement that the Palestinian people haven't given up on their right of return."