IDF says Hamas member arrested after crossing into Israel from Gaza
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IDF says Hamas member arrested after crossing into Israel from Gaza

Man immediately apprehended; Palestinians throw rocks, fire bombs and grenades at Israeli troops during weekly protest, IDF responds with tear gas, live fire

Tear gas canisters falling amidst Palestinian protesters during clashes with Israeli forces across the border fence, east of Gaza City, January 18, 2019. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)
Tear gas canisters falling amidst Palestinian protesters during clashes with Israeli forces across the border fence, east of Gaza City, January 18, 2019. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

A Palestinian who was arrested after he crossed the border from Gaza into Israel on Friday morning told interrogators he was a member of the Hamas terrorist organization, the army said in a statement.

The man breached the border fence to the north of the Gaza Strip and immediately surrendered before he was apprehended by Israeli troops, the IDF spokesperson’s unit said.

Hebrew-language media reported that he was unarmed.

Around 10,000 Palestinians participated in riots along the border on Friday afternoon, throwing rocks, fire bombs and hand grenades at Israeli troops, and burning tires. Israeli soldiers reportedly responded with tear gas and, in some cases, live fire.

A Palestinian protester uses a slingshot to throw tear gas toward Israeli forces during a demonstration along the Israeli fence east of Gaza City on January 18, 2019. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

A number of Palestinians briefly breached the border and entered Israel before quickly returning to Gaza, Hadashot news reported.

The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said that 43 people were injured in the clashes, including two members of the press and three medical personnel.

Hamas leader Ahmed Bahar warned the prime minister that the protesters would continue to “humiliate” Israel.

“Netanyahu, we are continuing with the help of God,” said Bahar, according to Hadashot news. “Our people are holding many cards that will humiliate the criminal Zionist enemy.”

Israel will decide whether to allow the next delivery of economic aid from Qatar to enter the Strip based on the level of violence at the protests, the Haaretz daily reported.

Friday’s violence marked the first major test for new IDF chief of staff Aviv Kohavi, who was sworn in as the 22nd commander of the Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday.

Since March, Palestinians have been holding weekly protests on the border that Israel has accused Gaza’s Hamas rulers of using as a cover for attacks on troops and attempts to breach the security fence. Israel has demanded an end to the violent demonstrations along the border in any future ceasefire agreement.

Palestinians carry away an injured protester during clashes with Israeli forces at a demonstration along the border with Israel east of Gaza City on January 18, 2019. (Said KHATIB / AFP)

The “March of Return” organizing committee on Friday demanded that Israel lift its blockade of the coastal enclave, saying that they were “ready to stand up to Israel and its policies.”

Israel has imposed a blockade on Gaza since the Hamas terror group, which is sworn to Israel’s destruction, seized the territory from the internationally backed Palestinian Authority in 2007. It says the blockade is in place in order to prevent weapons and other military equipment from entering the Strip.

Last Friday a Palestinian woman was shot dead by troops when 13,000 people rioted at the border, the Gaza’s health ministry said. On Monday the ministry said a 14-year-old succumbed to wounds sustained when he was hit in the head by a bullet.

At least 15 other Palestinians were injured by Israeli fire during last Friday’s border riots, the ministry said. One of them was reportedly a journalist, who was hurt when an ambulance was hit.

An Israeli soldier was lightly injured, the IDF said.

Palestinian protesters run through tear gas fumes during clashes with Israeli forces during a demonstration along the border with Israel east of Gaza City on January 11, 2019. (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

Last Friday, Palestinians along the border also launched balloons laden with incendiary devices across the border into Israel.

Israel’s air force attacked two Hamas posts in northern Gaza in response, the IDF said.

On Saturday, terrorists fired a rocket toward Israel which landed in an open field in the Sdot Negev area, according to local authorities. There were no reports of damage or injuries.

In recent weeks, Hamas has ramped up its threats of renewed violence along the Gaza border after Israel halted the transfer of $15 million of Qatari funds to the terror group after an exchange of fire. The funds are part of a series of six $15 million deposits Israel is allowing Qatar to deliver to Hamas as part of a highly contentious ceasefire agreement. The funds are meant ostensibly to pay the group’s civilian workers, though some Israeli officials — including former defense minister Avigdor Liberman — maintain the money will be used for Hamas’s terrorist activities.

Judah Ari Gross and agencies contributed to this report.

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