Gaza Militant Groups Warn of Escalation ahead of Weekly Protests

February 15, 2019

by: Elior Levy

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Terrorist leaders in Gaza threaten an escalation of violence at the weekly border riots.

Friday, 15 February 2019 | A joint statement by all of Gaza’s militant groups on Wednesday warned that clashes at the Gaza border, which take place every Friday, could this week lead to an escalation in violence.

The [organizers] “will not allow Israel to keep harming protesters during the March of Return peaceful rallies,” they said in a statement, referring to the weekly demonstrations that take place near the Gaza Strip’s border fence, which often turn into violent riots.

“The Zionist enemy is responsible for any kind of harm to the rights of the Palestinian people,” the statement said. “All signs point to a nearing clash, we won’t accept the fact that our people are starving and thirsty.”

Referring to an informal November agreement between the two sides, in which Qatar would transfer millions of dollars to the Gaza Strip in return for relative calm, the statement said that international “negotiators have to pressure Israel harder, so that the arrangements the were reached are upheld.”

The statement was released several days after Hamas stepped up hostilities toward Israel, with the resuming of nightly clashes on the border fence. Dozens of Palestinians have clashed with IDF [Israel Defense Forces] forces along the Strip’s fence in the Jabaliya region in recent days, throwing firecrackers at IDF soldiers, who used crowd dispersal methods in an attempt to control the riots.

Last Friday two teens were killed by IDF forces—an 18-year-old youth and 14-year-old Hassan Shalabi, the grandson of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh’s sister.

Shalabi’s funeral made headlines when his body was placed in a school classroom during the funeral march and students were asked to kiss it.

The IDF has also arrested a man who tried to swim past the maritime blockade on Gaza.

The last wave of nightly riots came to a halt when Israel allowed a third installment of Qatari funds in the Gaza Strip on January 26, as part of the informal agreement.

Hamas had initially refused to accept the third tranche but the funds finally went in after Qatar pledged it would be used to relieve impoverished families in the Gaza Strip and for different humanitarian projects in accordance with the United Nations and Hamas.

However, the change of terms and Hamas’s initial refusal to accept Israel’s conditions regarding the Qatari money meant clashes between Israel and Hamas would soon resume, as indeed happened in recent weeks.

Hamas is planning to resume nighttime clashes on a regular weekly basis. Furthermore, the organization also resumed confrontations at the Strip’s northern naval border, including with Gazan vessels that sail to the border every Tuesday.

According to assessments by Israeli Military Intelligence, Gaza is second place on the IDF agenda as long as Iranian forces are still involved in Syria and Lebanon. However, the assessment acknowledge the fragile situation in the Strip and said a flare-up with Hamas is expected to take place in [coming] months or during the summer.

Posted on February 15, 2019

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Ynetnews on February 14, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces@IDF/twitter.com