The Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups acknowledged Tuesday that 13 operatives from the organizations were among the 60 reported killed by IDF fire at the Gaza fence protests a day prior. Israel said at least 24 of the dead were members of terror groups.
Hamas said ten of those killed were members of its interior ministry, which is responsible for the security agencies in Gaza.
Islamic Jihad said that three members of its Saraya al-Quds military wing were gunned down by Israeli forces in Khan Younis.
The IDF said Tuesday that a total of 24 members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad were killed in the day-long clashes Monday.
Gaza: More martyrdom pictures, this time from Saraya al-Quds, the armed wing of Iran-sponsored Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Three of its members were killed at Khan Younis. pic.twitter.com/fGlnS7I4u8
— Björn Stritzel (@bjoernstritzel) May 15, 2018
It said the number was based on a joint investigation with the Shin Bet security service.
“Most of the people [from terror groups] killed belonged to the Hamas terror group, and some to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” an IDF spokesperson said.
Among the dead, the IDF said, were all eight members of a cell of armed Hamas operatives, who were killed in a gun battle as they sought to breach the fence in the northern Gaza Strip.
Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry said 60 people were killed in Monday’s demonstrations, most by gunfire, and more than 2,700 were injured. The ministry claimed a baby was among those killed, by tear gas, but a Gaza doctor, who said the baby had a pre-existing medical condition, and her family, cast doubt on this.
Another Palestinian man was killed Tuesday as smaller protests broke out in Gaza, the ministry said.
Israel has blamed Hamas for the deadly violence, saying the terror group encouraged and led the protests, which included attacks on Israeli troops and attempts to breach the border fence. The IDF said Sunday that Hamas planned to send armed terrorists through any breach in the fence to “massacre” Israelis.
After the first “March of Return” protests in March, Hamas acknowledged that five of its terrorists were among the fatalities, but it subsequently refrained from acknowledging whether its men were among the dead.
On Thursday, Hamas’s Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar said he hoped to see a mass breach of the Israeli border during Monday’s protests timed to coincide with the US embassy’s move to Jerusalem.
For Hamas, the terror group that rules Gaza and seeks Israel’s destruction, Monday’s border protest was the culmination of a weeks-long campaign to try to break the blockade on the territory. Israel says the blockade is necessary to prevent Hamas from acquiring weaponry and attacking the Jewish state.
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.