The Hamas terrorist group was reportedly eager to reduce the number of Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, offering to curb the violence along the border in exchange for a reprieve from Israeli raids.
According to a report late Tuesday on the Walla news website, Hamas conveyed to the Israel Defense Forces that it would prevent Palestinians protesters from clashing along the Gaza-Israel border if the Israeli military launches fewer airstrikes on its positions in the coastal enclave.
The reported offer came as the number of Palestinian rioters dropped dramatically on Tuesday, with only some 4,000 said to join the border clashes, according to the IDF. That was compared to some 40,000 Palestinians who participated in violent riots along the Gaza security fence on Monday.
As the Gaza border protests appeared to be thinning out, the army was concerned about the prospects of an uptick in violence in the West Bank over the month-long Ramadan holiday, which began on Tuesday evening, according to Channel 10.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians on Monday joined Hamas-organized protests on the Gaza border and hundreds of others clashed with Israeli troops on the outskirts of Jerusalem and in other locations in the West Bank, marking the 70th anniversary of what they call the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” of Israel’s creation in 1948, as well as protesting the relocation of the US embassy to Israel’s capital on Monday afternoon.
Israel has blamed Hamas for the deadly violence, saying the terror group encouraged and led the Gaza protests, which included attacks on Israeli troops and attempts to breach the border fence. The IDF had said Sunday that Hamas planned to send armed terrorists through any breach in the fence to “massacre” Israelis.
As of Tuesday, 60 Palestinians were reported killed in the clashes by the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, and another 2,771 injured to varying degrees. The Israel Defense Forces said that, in total, at least 24 of the people killed by Israeli troops on Monday were later identified as known members of terrorist organizations.
“Most of the people killed belonged to the Hamas terror group, and some to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” the army said, citing the findings of a joint investigation with the Shin Bet security service.
Leaders of Hamas, the terror group that rules Gaza and seeks Israel’s destruction, have said the protests aim to erase the border and “liberate Palestine.”
On Tuesday, the army said Israeli troops fended off an attempted incursion into Israeli territory by a cell of eight armed Hamas operatives in the northern Gaza Strip during Monday’s border clashes. All eight suspected terrorists were killed in the gun battle with soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces’ elite Maglan Unit, the military said.
Following the foiled attack, the IDF also bombarded a Hamas outpost in the northern Gaza Strip, using a tank and an aircraft, the army said. In total, the IDF said four shooting attacks by Palestinians against Israeli soldiers took place throughout Monday along the Gaza border, as well as four attacks with improvised explosive devices.
The Israeli military said its aircraft had struck 11 “terror targets” in a Hamas military compound Monday and that tanks targeted two Hamas posts.
Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.