IDF releases footage showing Gazans tampering with fence
Video showing Palestinians trying to damage security barrier comes amid international uproar over Israeli live fire policy
In an apparent attempt to explain its live fire use against Gazan protesters amid international uproar, the IDF released footage Tuesday evening showing new angles of violent demonstrations from the day prior.
Protesters are seen using rolling burning tires, hurling stones and Molotov cocktails, and using wire cutters in order to damage the security fence surrounding the coastal enclave.
Large crowds are seen watching just mere feet away from the border waving Palestinian flags surrounded by smoke and flames caused by the ignited tires.
Some 40,000 Palestinians participated in violent riots along the Gaza security fence Monday. As of Tuesday morning, 60 Palestinians were reported killed in the clashes by the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, and another 2,771 injured to varying degrees.
The IDF said at least 24 of the people killed by Israeli troops on Monday were later identified as known members of terrorist organizations.
Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad identified 13 of the dead as members of their respective organizations.
Protests renewed Tuesday, but with only some 4,000 participating, the IDF said. The army reported that soldiers arrested “a number” of Palestinians who tried to cross into Israeli territory during one protest along the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip Tuesday evening.
“The suspects were tracked by troops the entire time they moved [toward the border] and they were arrested next to the security fence,” according to the IDF.
An army spokesperson said she was not yet sure exactly how many people were arrested.
The suspects were handed over to the Shin Bet security service for questioning.
The Israeli military maintains that Monday’s demonstration, and those that preceded it, was not a popular uprising, but was instead a Hamas-led military operation to carry out attacks on IDF soldiers and potentially Israeli civilians under the cover of innocent protests.
It pointed to an incident Monday in which Israeli troops fended off an attempted incursion into Israeli territory by a cell of eight armed Hamas operatives in the northern Gaza Strip.
All eight suspected terrorists were killed in the gun battle with soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces’ elite Maglan Unit, according to the army.
However, many leaders in the international media have argued that the threat posed by the protesters did not require the use of live fire and that if it needed to be employed, it should have been used more discriminately.
Demonstrations continued, though at a much smaller scale on Tuesday, which marks the 70th anniversary of what Palestinians call the Nakba, or “catastrophe” — the uprooting of hundreds of thousands who fled or were expelled during the 1948 Israeli Independence War.
Some 4,000 Palestinians took part in rioting along the Gaza border, the Israeli army said, up from 400 who had been demonstrating there earlier in the day, but far less than the 40,000 who clashed with Israeli troops a day earlier.
The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said that two Palestinians had been killed and over 160 were injured to varying degrees.
IDF soldiers responded with riot dispersal means and, in some cases, live fire. “They are operating in accordance with the rules of engagement,” the army said.
In the West Bank, at least 1,300 Palestinians took part in violent demonstrations across 14 locations, the army said.
Protesters threw rocks and firebombs at Israeli troops. The IDF said the soldiers worked to disperse demonstrators with riot-dispersal means, including tear gas and rubber bullets.
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.”
Monday’s protests also targeted the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, viewed as a major provocation by the Palestinians and the Arab world. Palestinians see East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Hamas has said protests would continue in a weekly format, but it was not clear if it would be able to maintain momentum during the fasting month of Ramadan, which begins this week.