15 May 2018

Invasion, kidnapping plot behind Hamas' "March of Return"

From AIJAC, 15 May 2018, by Ahron Shapiro:



A Palestinian Facebook page ..posted ...explicit instructions for protesters to assemble at a certain time and place, moving together with hidden weapons and a goal of kidnapping civilians and delivering them to Hamas...

... here is a link to the original post, which remained on Facebook at the time of this writing.

TRANSLATION FROM ARABIC
Rebellious youth!
We'll start by standing tomorrow Monday along Jakr street from Beit Hanoun to Rafah at 10am in the morning. We will be announcing the specific hour, which we will notify you of later on, to move together towards the barbed wire so that we can remove it with the strength of our hands and our bare breasts as one, waiting for the loud speakers to join in with the cheers of the crowds and the amplified calls of the people. Therefore, no individual progress and only collective progress [should be undertaken] according to instructions because some of the bulldozers that will be in the back [will] advance forward to remove the entire wire.
Youth of the revolution!
Behave seriously, not recklessly with regards to the order to bring a knife, a dagger or a gun. If you bring one, keep it under your clothes and do not use it or show it except when one of the soldiers or settlers is verified [as such]. Do not kill Israeli civilians, instead deliver him immediately to the resistance [Hamas], because that is the point that Israel is afraid of, because she knows that the kidnapper can demand what he wants [for the release of the kidnapped].
Youth of the revolution!
[Israeli] snipers are deployed. Make them to leave their positions and flee. Always expose [look at] the area and think about what you are going do and then do it. Don't bother with the wounded or the martyrs [the dead]. The medical crews behind us are prepared for this purpose. You just follow the line, act wisely and follow the instructions.
 AIJAC has learned that at roughly the same time, another popular Facebook page among Gazans "Gaza Now" posted exactly the same directive - evidence that these instructions had been passed down from central organisers.

Defiance of IDF warnings
On the morning of May 14, the IDF dropped leaflets in Gaza, warning protesters to stay away from the fence. ...translations of the warnings appear directly below.

Leaflet 1
...To protesters - You are taking part in violent demonstrations that endanger your lives.
Hamas is taking advantage of you to hide is failings and is endangering you and your families. The IDF is prepared for any scenario and will act against any attempt to harm the security fence or a threat to its forces or citizens of Israel. Do not be puppets in the hands of Hamas that exploits you.
Beware of approaching the security fence and terror activists and rioters who resort to violence!
Take care of your life and work to build your future!
Leaflet 2
..."Hamas said it was going to improve the infrastructure in the Gaza Strip - Was this carried out?
Hamas was saying that it was going to set up new medical and educational centers - was this carried out?
Hamas said it would take care of the civilian affairs - Was this carried out?
Hamas said that participation in the demonstrations would improve your lives - Is this what will happen in your opinion?
Not a non-violent protest
Israeli television's Channel 20 documented a timeline of over a dozen attempted terror attacks during the March 14 protests alone. They wrote (translated from the original Hebrew):
At the height of the violent demonstrations today, some 40,000 rioters were deployed in 13 different locations along the Gaza Strip border. 58 dead and 2400 injured, according to Palestinian sources.
10 IEDs and pipe explosive devices were laid on the fence.
23 fires were cause due to kites and Molotov cocktails.
25 Kites were flown, 17 of them were carrying flammables.
11:30 - A mass run by hundreds of rioters in the north, including climbing the fence at several points.
12:53 - Five pipe bombs were detonated in the northern Gaza Strip.
12:58 - An explosive device was detonated in the northern Gaza Strip.
13:15 - Preventing the laying of explosive charges by a terrorist squad which opened fire at an IDF force (4-6 terrorists) in the southern Gaza Strip. IDF responded with fire.
13:30 - Shooting at IDF forces in the northern Gaza Strip.
13:45 - Shooting at IDF forces in the northern Gaza Strip (8 terrorists), under the cover of disturbances. IDF responds with fire.
13:50 - Attacking Hamas' position by Israeli aircraft in the northern Gaza Strip.
14:09 - Three explosive devices detonated in the southern Gaza Strip.
14:10 - Attacking Hamas' position by Israeli aircraft in the northern Gaza Strip.
14:13 - A Molotov cocktail thrown at the IDF in the southern Gaza Strip.
14:15 - Attack on Hamas position by an Israeli tank in northern Gaza Strip.
14:49 - A Molotov cocktail thrown at the IDF forces in the southern Gaza Strip. IDF returned fire.
15:10 - An explosive device was detonated in the northern Gaza Strip.
15:26 - Attacking five Hamas targets by a fighter jet in the northern Gaza Strip.
17:04 - Attack on a Hamas position by a tank in the northern Gaza Strip.
17:25 - Attacking three Hamas targets by a fighter jet in the northern Gaza Strip.
19:02 - Shooting at the IDF forces in the southern Gaza Strip. In response, a tank fired at an observation post.

Israeli Intelligence sheds more light on the "March of the Return"
On May 14, the news website Times of Israel published findings of Israel's internal intelligence and security agency, the Shin Bet. That article can be found here.

Key takeaways:

  • Iran is funding Hamas' violent schemes under the cover of the "March of Return"
  • According to a Palestinian suspect arrested for offences at the border fence, Hamas "is working to make its activities look like a popular uprising in the media, and not a violent operation by its members."
  • "The testimony [of the suspect] showed a cynical use of children and innocent civilians by Hamas, while endangering their lives, in order to vandalize and steal equipment"
  • During protests, Hamas members are meant to act as instigators for attempts to breach the fence, but not take action themselves - unless the fence is breached, in which case Hamas members would execute predetermined infiltration plans, including terror attacks and kidnappings.
  • Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot's veteran defence analyst Ron-Ben Yishai noted in a comprehensive analysis published after the March 14 riots that "Hamas even published the map of communities it planned to infiltrate", among other findings.

Thousands of Israelis live in kibbbutz collective farms and other communities within a kilometer or two from the Gaza border. Infiltrators that penetrate the fence could reach these communities within minutes. In March, three armed Gazan infiltrators managed to penetrate 20 kilometers inside of Israel in less than a day before they were fortunately captured.

Conclusion
The mounting death toll along the Gaza border is a tragedy which Israel has been dragged into with the understanding by Hamas that Israel must prevent a mass infiltration event at all costs. This is because Israeli security authorities understand what Palestinian social media has confirmed - while most participants in the "March of Return" are keeping their distance from the fence and sending their political message non-violently, Hamas is using the cover of those protests to mount violent infiltration attempts to harm Israeli border communities, hurl firebombs and slingshot-propelled rocks over the fence at Israelis and even use of firearms and incendiary kites against Israelis and their property.

Sadly, Israel has been forced to defend itself from these attempts at the cost of dozens of Palestinian lives. And yet one must remember that the number of casualties amount to a tiny fraction of Palestinian protesters precisely because safeguarding against the lost of innocent life of non-violent protesters is in every Israeli interest, morally and strategically.

Criticism of Israel's justified use of force to defend its border communities, however well-intentioned, can only serve to encourage Hamas to continue and even escalate these aggressions.
The blame for the regrettable loss of life must ultimately rest with the Hamas regime which controls Gaza and bears responsibility for aggressions and provocations that emanate from territory under its control. 

Australians who support the cause of peace should devote their efforts to apply pressure on Hamas to desist from this morally reprehensible campaign that, if unchecked, can only lead to further bloodshed.