Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Friday evening that Hamas was responsible for the deaths of at least six Palestinians during clashes with IDF troops along the security fence between Israel and Gaza earlier in the day.
“They (Hamas) know that this is a closed area [and] they allow rioters to go there,” Ya’alon said, according to Channel 2 television. He also expressed hope that Hamas would refrain from escalating the situation, and referred to the bloody war that Israel and the terror group waged last summer.
“I hope that Hamas remembers Protective Edge,” Ya’alon said, using the name of the IDF operation during the 50-day conflict.
The incident began with some 200 Palestinians approaching the security fence in northern Gaza, closest to Kibbutz Nahal Oz.
“They began throwing stones and rolling burning tires at Israeli forces,” an Israeli army spokesperson said.
IDF troops, who remained on the Israeli side of the border, opened fire at the protesters, who were approximately 150 feet (50 meters) away, in order to break up the protest and push them from the fence, the spokesman said.
אחמד Herbawi וחוסאם שאדי נהרגו בעימותים עם צהלמזרחית לשכונת סג'עיה( 2 הרוגים לפחות)כרגע הם מדווחים על 20 פצועים.#עזה
The protesters were from Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and other groups in the Strip, Arabic news outlets reported.
“Gaza will fulfill its role in the Jerusalem intifada and it is more than ready for confrontation,” Ismail Haniyeh said during a sermon for weekly Muslim prayers at a mosque in Gaza City.
“We are calling for the strengthening and increasing of the intifada… It is the only path that will lead to liberation,” he said.
Before Friday, during the days of unrest in Israel and the West Bank, Gaza had remained relatively quiet. However, Hamas had urged Gazans to join a Hamas-sponsored mass protest after Friday prayers in solidarity with the struggle by West Bank Palestinians against Israel and to “defend al-Aqsa.”
Hamas leaders have praised the perpetrators of terror attacks in recent days, and increasingly urged West Bank Palestinians to carry out attacks.
AFP and Avi Issacharoff contributed to this report.