Masked men holding wire cutters and calling themselves the Gaza “Fence Cutters’ Unit” threatened to breach the border separating the Gaza Strip from Israel and to “liberate” the entire Jewish state, which they called their “occupied lands,” from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.
In footage broadcast Friday by Gaza’s Al-Aqsa TV, controlled by the enclave’s Hamas terrorist organization rulers, the masked leader of the group said, “Today, we cut the Zionist enemy’s main barbed wire fence on the Gaza border, east of the Jabaliya refugee camp [in the northern part of Strip].”
That same day, the IDF said it thwarted an attempt by hundreds of Gaza to breach the fence.
“Allah willing, today we shall enter our occupied lands and ignite a revolution against the Zionist enemy in order to proclaim, loud and clear, that this enemy is destined for perdition and that what was taken by force will be regained by force alone,” the masked man said in the clip.
In the report, translated Monday by the Middle East Media Research Institute TV monitoring project, the group chants that “the army of Mohammed will return,” after which the leader screams, “May Islam regain its glory! May the Al-Aqsa Mosque regain its purity. Let our blood be shed.”
Members of Gaza "Fence Cutters' Unit" Proclaims: Victory or Martyrdom! – Scenes from Gaza "Return March" pic.twitter.com/yPbbIs4xC6
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) April 30, 2018
Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest shrine in Islam and is often used by Palestinians as a rallying call to violence against Israel. It sits atop the Temple Mount, the holiest place in Judaism as the site of the biblical temples.
In two separate incidents on Sunday, one of which included an attack on Israeli forces, troops opened fire on four Palestinians who tried to enter Israeli territory from the southern Gaza Strip, killing three of them, the army said.
In a third case, also in the southern Gaza Strip, two Palestinian suspects were arrested after they crossed into Israeli territory, the military said.
The incidents came amid weeks of Hamas-backed protests by Gazans at the border, dubbed the “March of Return.” Protesters, many sent to the demonstrations by Hamas, have decried Israel’s blockade on the Strip — imposed, Israel says, to prevent Hamas from importing weaponry — and called to erase the border and “liberate Palestine.”
Rioters have burned tires, hurled firebombs and rocks at Israeli troops, flown flaming kites over the border, and repeatedly attempted to sabotage the security fence.
More than 40 Gazans have been killed in the clashes, including by live fire employed by IDF snipers, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza. The use of live fire has drawn criticism internationally.
Israel says it faces terrorism at the fence, with Hamas using the mass marches as cover for attempts to breach the border barrier.
Israel has defended its use of live fire in the Hamas-backed protests, saying it is necessary to prevent harm to Israeli citizens and infrastructure and to thwart attacks by the terror group. It says Hamas uses the protests as cover for terrorism.
The Israeli army on Friday released video footage showing what it said was an attempt by hundreds of Palestinians to breach the Gaza Strip’s border fence with Israel. The confrontation, which drew IDF fire, was one of the most violent incidents yet in five weeks of protests.
Four people were killed and more than 300 hurt in Friday’s rallies, the Gaza Strip’s Hamas-run health ministry said.
In a statement, the Israeli military said it had “thwarted” an attempted infiltration by Palestinian protesters.
It said “hundreds of rioters” tried to burn the fence and enter Israel, and went on to say that the crowd threw explosives, firebombs and rocks, and that troops opened fire “in accordance with the rules of engagement,” halting the crowd.