Terror groups slam Israel after IDF bulldozer collects body from Gaza border
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Terror groups slam Israel after IDF bulldozer collects body from Gaza border

Bennett backs IDF, calls left-wing critics ‘bleeding hearts,’ after Hamas accuses Israel of ‘heinous crime’; army accuses Islamic Jihad of placing bomb next to border fence

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

An Israeli military bulldozer enters the Gaza buffer zone to retrieve the body of a suspected terrorist on February 23, 2020. (Screen capture/Shehab news)
An Israeli military bulldozer enters the Gaza buffer zone to retrieve the body of a suspected terrorist on February 23, 2020. (Screen capture/Shehab news)

The Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups condemned Israel on Sunday after an IDF bulldozer was seen earlier in the day lifting the body of a Palestinian man whom the military accused of placing a bomb in the border region between Israel and the Gaza Strip near Khan Younis.

A video shared on social media showed the IDF bulldozer approaching Palestinians who were attempting to retrieve the body and then lifting and carrying it away while it hangs from its blade.

The footage also appeared to indicate that at least one of the Palestinians trying to recover the corpse was hit by Israeli fire. The Hamas-run Health Ministry said two people were hit in the legs by bullets as they struggled with the bulldozer.

The IDF said that two members of the Islamic Jihad had earlier placed a bomb adjacent to the border fence before security forces opened fire on them. It also released footage of what appeared to be two men approaching the fence and a photo of what it said was the bomb.

The Al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad’s military wing, announced that 27-year-old Mohammed al-Naem, one of its fighters, was killed in that incident. It did not make mention of a second casualty belonging to the terror group, but the Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Information Center reported that Palestinians in the border region succeeded in retrieving another Palestinian who it said was critically wounded by Israeli fire.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum pauses during an interview with The Associated Press in Gaza City, February 7, 2012. (AP/Hatem Mousa)

Regarding the body taken away by the bulldozer, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement: “The Zionist occupation’s deliberate killing of an innocent young man along the perimeter of the Gaza Strip and its maltreatment of his corpse in plain sight is another heinous crime that has been added to its record of awful crimes at the expense of our Palestinian people.

“The Zionist enemy will bear full responsibility for its consequences and ramifications.”

Hamas has ruled Gaza since 2007, when it ousted the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority from the territory, but it has allowed the Al-Quds Brigades to operate and build up its ranks.

An Israeli military bulldozer enters the Gaza buffer zone to retrieve the body of a suspected terrorist on February 23, 2020. (Screen capture/Shehab news)

Islamic Jihad said that “the blood of martyrs will not be in vain” and that Naem had been killed while carrying out his “fighting duty.”

“The occupation perpetrated barefaced aggression by targeting and mistreating his pure body,” the terror group said in a statement. “These heinous crimes will only increase our fighters’ resolve and perseverance to walk down the right path regardless of the cost.”

An IDF spokeswoman said she could not comment on why the army sent a bulldozer to collect the body.

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, however, defended the army for making such a move.

“I give my backing to the IDF that eliminated the terrorists and collected the body. That is what is needed and that is how we will act. We will use power against terrorists,” he tweeted.

“I am tired of the left’s hypocritical criticisms against the ‘inhumane’ use of a bulldozer to recover the body of a terrorist who tried to murder Israelis,” he added. “Gentlemen, bleeding hearts: *You all* are not humanists. Hamas is holding the bodies of Oron and Hadar.”

Bennett was responding to criticism by left-wing activist Yariv Oppenheimer on Twitter, who argued that the IDF taking the body with a bulldozer was not only “shameful and shocking” but also will not provide “healing” for the families of Israelis believed to be held in Gaza.

Hamas is widely believed to be holding captive two Israeli civilians and the bodies of Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, Israeli soldiers who were thought to have been killed in the 2014 Gaza war.

Bennett said last week that Israel was beginning to “hoard” the corpses of Palestinian terrorists as “bargaining chips” in an effort to secure the release of Israelis in Gaza.

“We are hoarding the corpses of terrorists in order to put pressure on the other side,” Bennett said in an interview on the 103FM radio station.

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