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Hamas threatens more Gaza violence: ‘All means available to break the siege’

Incendiary balloon units reportedly set to resume attacks on Israel amid ongoing disagreements over improving living conditions in the enclave

Supporters of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group prepare balloon-borne incendiary devices to launch toward Israel, east of Gaza City, on June 15, 2021. (Atia Mohammed/Flash90)
Supporters of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group prepare balloon-borne incendiary devices to launch toward Israel, east of Gaza City, on June 15, 2021. (Atia Mohammed/Flash90)

Hamas is warning of continued unrest along the border fence with Israel, amid ongoing talks regarding a mechanism to allow Qatari aid money back into the Gaza Strip, as well as various steps to improve life in the enclave.

Reports in Palestinian media indicated that units in charge of incendiary balloon attacks on Israeli planned to resume activities. The past week has seen repeated nightly riots along the border fence with Hamas’ blessing.

The terror group’s spokesman Abdel Latif al-Qanou said in a statement Saturday: “Our Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip are determined to extract all their demands and break the siege on the Gaza Strip and no longer accept the gradual easing [of restrictions].”

He added that “our people’s options are open and all tools and means are available to pressure the occupation and oblige it to lift the siege on our people.”

Qatar and Egypt have been closely involved in efforts to improve conditions in Gaza in the wake of May’s 11-day war between Israel and Hamas, including the transfer of aid to the needy, greater allowances for goods and building materials to enter the Strip and more.

A plan was recently announced to allow Qatari aid back into Gaza, but many other issues remain unresolved.

The so-called “night confusion units” were active throughout most of the past week, setting tires alight at the border and lobbing improvised explosives at Israeli troops.

The “night confusion units” do not officially tie themselves to Hamas, though their activities could not take place without the approval of the terror group that rules the Strip.

Palestinians gather, on September 2, 2021, during a nighttime protest along the border fence with Israel, east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip (Said Khatib/AFP)

The riots came at the same time as Israel allowed dozens of truckloads of construction materials into the Strip.

Speaking to defense officials Monday night, Israel Defense Forces chief Aviv Kohavi warned that Israel would not tolerate the border riots.

“Calm and security will allow an improvement in civil conditions, but rioting and terror will lead to a strong response or operation,” he said.

The most severe recent border riots took place on August 21. The violent protest saw hundreds of Palestinian protesters approach the fence, throw stones, and burn tires. Israeli troops responded with tear gas, rubber bullets, and a form of live fire.

An Israeli Border Police officer, Barel Shmueli, 21, was shot at point-blank range when a Palestinian man approached a slit in a barrier where Shmueli was stationed and fired a pistol at him. He was critically injured and later died.

Two Palestinians who took part in the protest, including a 13-year-old boy, were shot by troops and also died.

Palestinians burn tires during a protest along the border fence with Israel, east of Gaza City in the central Gaza Strip, on August 30, 2021. (Mohammed Abed/AFP)

Last month, Qatar and the United Nations announced that they had signed an agreement to return some Qatari subsidies to the Gaza Strip.

The funds do not include payments to Hamas civil servants, who also received cash from Qatar before the May conflict between Israel and terror groups in the Gaza Strip.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that the new mechanism “ensures the money reaches those in need, while maintaining Israel’s security needs.”

Under the somewhat convoluted arrangement, Qatar will deposit the funds each month in a UN bank account in New York, from which it will be transferred to an unspecified Palestinian bank in Ramallah and from there to a branch in the Gaza Strip.

The Gaza branch will then issue the $100 stipends to the recipients in the form of reloadable debit cards. Israel will oversee who receives these cards.

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