Posts Tagged ‘Israel Defense Forces’

Gaza militants fire dozens of mortars at southern Israel

May 29, 2018

Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired a barrage of mortar shells at southern Israel on Tuesday, the army said, as tensions in the border area simmered.

A statement from the Israeli army said that “25 mortar shells were launched towards several sites in Israeli territory.”

“Most of the launches were intercepted by the IDF’s Iron Dome aerial defence system,” the army said.

No automatic alt text available.

Palestinian militants launch a mortar — FILE photo

Police said that “a number of the mortars landed in open areas inside Israel,” with no injuries reported.

Image result for Iron Dome, Photos

Israel’s Iron Dome

On Monday, a Palestinian who approached the border fence with what the Israeli army said an “intention of carrying out an attack” was killed by tank fire.

A day earlier, a tank targeted an Islamic Jihad observation point in response to an explosive device being placed on the border fence.

Three members of the militant group were killed, and Israeli media said the Tuesday projectiles were Islamic Jihad’s response to the attack.

At least 121 Palestinians have been killed during weeks of unrest since March 30, when Palestinians began calling to be allowed to return to their historic homelands inside Israel.

The majority were killed during protests along the border, including at least 61 on May 14.

Others have been killed in air strikes.

Israel says it is merely defending its borders and accuses Hamas of encouraging thousands of Palestinians to break through the border and attack Israelis.

Also on Tuesday, a group of activist Palestinians were due to set sail to breach Israel’s naval blockade by boat.

The destination of the boat, carrying patients needing medical care, students and job-seeking university graduates, was not announced.

The Gaza Strip has been under Israeli blockade for more than a decade, with Israel saying it is necessary to prevent the Palestinian enclave’s militant Hamas rulers from obtaining means to attack the Jewish state.

AFP

**************************************************

Mortar shells strike southern Israel in largest volley since 2014; no injuries

Sirens blare throughout Sha’ar Hanegev, Eshkol regions during at least 2 separate attacks from Gaza; Iron Dome intercepts most projectiles; Israel said to retaliate with tank fire

Times of Israel
May 29, 2018

More than two dozen mortar shells were fired at southern Israel in at least three separate barrages Tuesday morning as sirens blared throughout the area, the army said, amid heightened tensions along the Gaza border.

There were no reports of injuries or significant material damage, local government officials said.

The shellings appeared to be the largest attack from the Gaza Strip since the 2014 war, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge.

The head of the Eshkol region told Channel 10 news that the army told him the attack was carried out by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, as revenge for the IDF killing three of its members in a cross-border exchange earlier in the week.

Mortar shells fired from Gaza at southern Israel, May 29, 2018 (Twitter)

There were no immediate reports of a significant Israeli military retaliation to the attacks. Massive reprisal raids were expected, following the repeated, highly irregular mortar shellings on Tuesday morning.

The initial, larger bombardment came at 7 a.m., when approximately 25 mortar shells were toward the Sha’ar Hanegev and Eshkol regions, as parents were beginning to send their children to school, the army said.

The army said its Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted the majority of the incoming shells from the first barrage.

One of the shells struck a tree in the yard of a kindergarten in the Eshkol region, less than an hour before students were due to arrive, a spokesperson for the community said.

Exactly one hour later, incoming sirens were triggered for a second time in the Eshkol region, but not in Sha’ar Hanegev, as at least two mortar shells struck an open field in the area, the army said.

The remains of a mortar shell that was fired from the Gaza Strip at an Israeli community near the Gaza border, on May 29, 2018. (Israel Police)

The second attack caused neither injuries nor damage.

Sirens in southern Israel were triggered by a mortar shell for a third time shortly after 9:30 a.m., the army said.

The projectile struck an open field outside a community in the Eshkol region, causing no injury or damage, local officials said.

The military and police refrained from specifying where exactly the mortar shells struck in southern Israel, as the information could be used by terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip to better aim their fire.

The kindergarten that was hit by a mortar shell — along with all other schools in the area — was set to open as usual on Tuesday, despite the attack.

matan tzuri מתן צורי

@MatanTzuri

ירי הרקטות: הרס בגן הילדים בקיבוץ באשכול

“At this point, there are no special instructions for residents of the Gaza periphery. Please continue to listen to the instructions of the Home Front Command,” the army said in a statement.

Pictures and videos were quickly shared on social media apparently showing the launches of the mortar shells and the interceptions by the Iron Dome.

نآي .@AmnaKuhail

انا كنت بدي اصور صورة واكتب صباح الخير وهيك بس هادا اللي صار 🤦🏻‍♀️
مكانش صباح والله 😅

The Iron Dome’s interceptions of the majority of the incoming mortar shells marked a significant improvement for the missile defense system. It was initially designed to shoot down rockets and struggled to counter mortar shells, which are both physically smaller and tend to remain in the air for less time, giving a short window for interception, though this no longer appears to be an issue.

The mortar shell attack appeared to be the largest bombardment, in terms of the number of projectiles fired, in nearly four years.

The next largest attack was also carried out by the Iran-backed Islamic Jihad, which calls for Israel’s destruction. On November 30, the group fired a dozen mortar shells at an IDF position northeast of the Gaza Strip, causing light damage but no injuries.

On Sunday, an IDF tank attacked an Islamic Jihad position near the Gaza border after a group of Palestinians planted an improvised explosive device, disguised as a set of bolt cutters, on the security fence. At least three members of the terror group were killed, and the Islamic Jihad vowed revenge.

“We will not give up our duty to the blood of the martyrs shed by the occupation, and we know how to respond to this dangerous escalation,” the group said in a statement.

An improvised explosive device, disguised to look like a set of bolt cutters, found at the Gaza security fence on May 27, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

Tuesday’s mortar attack also came less than 12 hours after Palestinians in the Gaza Strip opened fire with a machine gun at the southern Israeli town of Sderot, causing damage but no injuries, in the second such attack in as many weeks, the army said.

The heavy gunfire triggered incoming rocket sirens in Sderot and the surrounding Sha’ar Hanegev region, according to the army.

The gunfire damaged a number of buildings in Sderot, the city said, as well as at least one car, according to Israel’s Hadashot news.

It was the second machine gun attack on Sderot in under two weeks. On May 16, bullets struck a number of homes in the town, though in that case no rocket siren was triggered.

The region has seen a marked uptick in fighting in recent days, with near-daily cross-border incidents shattering the tense calm that had existed in the area previously.

Unlike previous rounds of violence, until Tuesday Gazan terrorists generally refrained from shooting rockets, instead using small arms fire directed at troops, planting bombs, flying incendiary kites, and sneaking across the border to cause minor damage.

Hours before Monday’s machine gun attack, Israeli soldiers came under fire from Gaza, prompting the military to launch fresh strikes on Hamas targets in the Strip, the IDF said.

One Gazan was killed and another moderately injured, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry.

The Israeli troops were arresting two Palestinians who infiltrated into Israel from the Gaza Strip when they came under fire from across the border, the army said.

No Israeli soldiers were reported to be injured.

A bullet from Gaza that struck a wall in the southern Israeli town of Sderot on May 28, 2018. (Sderot Municipality)

As a matter of policy, the Israeli army considers Hamas, which rules Gaza, to be responsible for any attack emanating from the beleaguered coastal enclave.

There were also numerous attempts over the weekend to breach and damage the border fence, the IDF said, as well as several attempted attacks, including one using a drone.

Since March 30, tens of thousands of Palestinians have taken part in weekly protests which Israel says are orchestrated by Hamas and used as cover for attempted terror attacks and breaches of the border fence.

The violent demonstrations were meant to end on May 15, but Hamas leaders have said they want them to continue. Over 10,000 Gazans took part in the demonstrations in the course of Friday and Saturday, the army said.

The demonstrations came to a head on May 14 when the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem and at least 60 Palestinians were killed in clashes — almost all of them Hamas members, the terror group has acknowledged.

Michael Bachner and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/sirens-blare-explosions-heard-in-southern-israel-amid-gaza-border-tensions/

READ MORE:
Advertisements

Israeli defense system shoots down Gaza mortar fire

May 29, 2018

Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile shield shot down a barrage of mortar shells fired from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday after sirens sounded in southern Israel, warning residents to find shelter.

“A barrage of 25 mortar shells were launched toward several sites in Israeli territory. Most of the launches were intercepted by the IDF’s (Israel Defense Forces) Iron Dome aerial defense system,” the military said in a statement.

Image result for Hamas, mortars, photos

PALESTINIANS FIRE a mortar shell in the southern Gaza Strip in 2015 — FILE photo, credit Jerusalem Post

Tensions have been high along the border between Israel and Gaza, which is controlled by the Islamist militant group Hamas.

On Monday, Israeli tank fire killed a Hamas fighter at a frontier outpost while soldiers chased down and caught two other Gazan militants who tried to cross into Israel.

This follows weeks of Palestinian mass-demonstrations along the border, which Israel deems to be cover for attempts to breach the border fence.

At least 116 Palestinians have been killed and thousands hurt by army gunfire in the protests, drawing foreign censure of Israel’s deadly tactics. Israel blames Hamas for provoking the violence, which the group denies.

Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Darren Schuettler

Reuters

The Truth About Hamas and Israel

May 22, 2018

Dozens of Palestinians died to further the terror group’s lies—and the Western media ate it up.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri addresses the media in Gaza City, 2015.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri addresses the media in Gaza City, 2015. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Sami Abu Zuhri is the spokesman for the extremist group Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization funded by Iran. Hamas controls Gaza and has killed innocent Israeli, American, Brazilian, Kenyan, British, French and Chinese civilians. As chief intelligence officer of the Israel Defense Forces’ Gaza division from 2012-14, I came to know Mr. Abu Zuhri and other Hamas spokesmen from a distance. Their modus operandi is simple: Lie. Their lies support the stated goal of Hamas: the delegitimization and destruction of Israel.

For weeks the international media has reported on violence on the border between Gaza and Israel. Hamas has continued to lie to the world, which is why their rare acknowledgments of truth are especially revealing. Hamas spokesmen raced to the press last week to lament the death of innocent civilians. But a senior Hamas leader, Salah Bardawil, said in a May 16 interview with a Palestinian TV station: “In the last round of confrontations, if 62 people were martyred, 50 of them were Hamas.”

Hamas itself has confirmed that 80% of those killed in their violent riots last Monday were members of a terrorist group, not innocent civilians. Several more of the fatalities were claimed by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. On May 13, Mahmoud Al-Zahar, a co-founder of Hamas, said in an interview with Al Jazeera: “When we talk about ‘peaceful resistance,’ we are deceiving the public.” You can trust Hamas only when they admit to their lies.

The Hamas spokesmen orchestrated a well-funded terrorist propaganda operation. Behind the theatrics was a plan that threatened Israel’s border and civilians. Hamas provided free transportation from throughout the Gaza Strip to the border for innocent civilians, including women and children. Hamas hired them as extras, paying $14 a person or $100 a family for attendance—and $500 if they managed to get injured. Hamas forced all of their commanders and operatives to go to the border dressed as civilians, each serving as a director of an area—as if to direct their own stage of the operation.

The audience was the international media. Hamas gave anyone with a video camera front-row access to the show and free Wi-Fi. The IDF had precise intelligence that the violent riots were masking a plan of mass infiltration into Israel in order to carry out a massacre against Israeli civilians. Hamas called it a “peaceful protest,” and much of the world simply fell for it.

The idea that this was a peaceful protest is the biggest lie of all, because the basic tenets required for a protest in a democracy like the U.S. or Israel do not exist in Gaza. Under Hamas’s control, there is no freedom of speech, no freedom of assembly, no freedom of religion, no freedom of the press. There can be no such thing as a peaceful protest in Gaza, only gatherings organized, sanctioned and funded by Hamas. Calling this a protest isn’t fake news, just fake.

In multiple assaults on the border this spring, Hamas has used machine guns, Molotov cocktails, airborne improvised explosive devices and grenades. Hundreds of Gazans have tried to blow up or tear down the fence between Gaza and Israel, with the intention of infiltrating our sovereign territory and reaching innocent Israelis who live minutes from the border.

On April 6 the Hamas political leader, Yahya Sinwar, stated: “We will take down the border [with Israel] and we will tear their hearts from their bodies.” On Facebook Hamas posted maps for their operatives showing the quickest routes from the border with Israel to Israelis’ homes, schools, and day-care centers near the border. Does that sound like a peaceful protest to you?

Facing the dangers posed by cowardly terrorists who disguise themselves as civilians, IDF soldiers acted with courage and restraint, following strict rules of engagement to ensure minimum civilian injury and loss of life while still protecting the border. As part of Hamas’s propaganda operation, hundreds of Gazans were injured last week and several dozen died, most of whom were Hamas operatives. None of this violence had to occur, but it was the violence that Hamas instigated and orchestrated so that the headlines and pictures would reinforce the lies that the Hamas spokesmen had planned.

Hamas can lie—to the world, to Palestinians and to their own commanders and operatives—but I am proud that the IDF will never lie or use Israeli civilians or soldiers as pawns. Some of Israel’s greatest friends might have preferred that we had looked better in the media this past week, but between vanity and truth, the IDF always chooses truth. It is that morality that sustains the IDF. The uniformed professional soldiers of the IDF may not photograph well compared with terrorists disguised as civilians—but we are honest about what we are and what we say. As the IDF spokesman, if I cannot source and cite material, I will not allow it to be published. I will not release any statement if the facts are in doubt.

Some in the media helped Hamas by publishing its lies rather than the facts. Hamas achieved negative media coverage about Israel after their first violent riot, on March 30, the first day of this propaganda operation. Hamas could have then claimed a propaganda victory, stopped the violence, and prevented many deaths. But for Hamas, lies are more important than lives.

If in order to win the international propaganda war I need to lie like Hamas, then I prefer to tell the truth and lose. The IDF will win where it matters—protecting our civilians in the face of terror. The soldiers of the IDF won this week by keeping Israeli families safe and by stopping Hamas from accomplishing its stated goals.

Even more than the lying, the true difference between Mr. Abu Zuhri and me is that he goes to sleep every night wishing for the destruction of my country and the death of my children. I go to sleep at night hoping for a better life for his children as well as mine. And that’s the truth.

Brig. Gen. Manelis is the spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-truth-about-hamas-and-israel-1526841445

As Health Worsens, Israeli Intelligence Sees the Beginning of the End of Abbas’ Rule

May 22, 2018

Claims that the Palestinian president was suffering from pneumonia have been rejected, but Israel believes the 82-year-old’s time in charge is drawing to an end

.Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reads a newspaper inside the hospital in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank May 21, 2018. Palestinian President Office (PPO)/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reads a newspaper inside the hospital in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank May 21, 2018.\ HANDOUT/ REUTERS

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ hospitalization this past week has led to conflicting reports about his health. Senior Palestinian Authority officials have downplayed the seriousness of his condition. But according to rumors in Ramallah over the weekend, the true information is being kept under wraps.

What is known for sure is that Abbas has been in and out of hospital for a week now – first for ear surgery and later for tests. During this period, Abbas has communicated with those around him and spoken to a few people by phone.

On Sunday, close associates told journalists and interlocutors on the Israeli side that his situation was much improved. On Saturday, it was said that he had pneumonia and was even on a respirator. Abbas’ associates say his illness is due to the tremendous pressure on him in recent weeks and his many trips abroad during this time.

Abbas, 82, has suffered from various ailments in recent years and remains a heavy smoker. Although he still frequently travels abroad, the word in Ramallah is that when he’s in the West Bank, his daily schedule has been curtailed and he frequently shows signs of impatience and behavior described as capricious and angry.

Abbas’ advanced age and health may have also contributed to some of his recent actions. In April, he hinted that the Jews were partially responsible for what happened to them in the Holocaust (after which he issued a semi-apology). Before that, he insisted on cutting assistance to the Gaza Strip as part of the ongoing conflict with Hamas.

Israeli security officials see this as the beginning of the end of Abbas’ rule, although it is not clear how long the whole process will take.

In the frenzied atmosphere that has taken hold on the Israeli right – given the Netanyahu government’s recent string of political and security successes – there will probably be calls to take advantage of the situation and make unilateral changes to the relationship with the PA in the West Bank. But leading security officials say that, on the contrary, security coordination with Abbas and his people is a strategic asset that must be carefully maintained with Abbas’ successor (or successors).

Absent a permanent solution or any diplomatic talks on the horizon, security connections with the PA help prevent deterioration on the ground. Witness the dozens of cases in which PA security operatives have, in keeping with Abbas’ policy, returned Israeli citizens who mistakenly entered Palestinian towns or cities. The PA also continues, for its own reasons, to arrest Hamas activists, some of whom are involved in planning terror attacks against Israel.

Even when Abbas decides to retire, or his heath forces him to do so, the identity of his heir is not apparent.

Abbas holds three different offices: chairman of the PA, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and head of Fatah. The legal situation of the Palestinian institutions is complicated; the enmity between Fatah and Hamas – and the fact that Abbas has not clearly declared an heir – will seemingly complicate succession plans.

There is, of course, the possibility that the matter will be decided democratically – though the last elections in the territories were for the Palestinian parliament back in 2006.

The Israeli intelligence community believes it is more likely that Abbas will be replaced, at least temporarily, by a group that could include senior Fatah leaders, officials with diplomatic experience and representatives of the security agencies.

Names mentioned include Jibril Rajoub, the former head of the PA’s Preventive Security who in recent years has headed the Palestinian Football Association. Rajoub has returned to intensive political activity in recent times and could play a major role after Abbas leaves. Another contender is Mahmoud al-Aloul, the former governor of Nablus who is now Abbas’ deputy in Fatah. Majid Faraj, the West Bank intelligence chief, is considered a strong man who is close to Abbas, but without much chance to succeed him.

A quiet weekend in Gaza

Meanwhile, the Gaza Strip saw the quietest weekend since demonstrations began along the border with Israel on March 30. This might be due to the impact of the clashes that took place last Monday, when 62 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire. The health system in Gaza was hugely overstretched due to the thousands of people also wounded in the protests.

A Palestinian protester wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and holding a slingshot during clashes with Israeli soldiers along the border with the Gaza Strip, May 18, 2018.
A Palestinian protester wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and holding a slingshot during clashes with Israeli soldiers along the border with the Gaza Strip, May 18, 2018.MAHMUD HAMS/AFP

The relative calm might also be connected to the main change that followed the deaths: Egypt’s announcement that it was opening the Rafah Crossing. Two possibilities for the move came from Cairo. According to one, the crossing would be open throughout the month of Ramadan. According to the other, the crossing will open 10 days a month, instead of only a few days. Either way, this is Hamas’ first major achievement as a result of the protests, along with renewed debate about Gaza’s distress in the international media.

Considering this relative success, the Friday demonstrations are likely to persist. Hamas has already announced plans for a major protest on June 5 – the 51st anniversary of the Six-Day War.

Israel Defense Forces Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis has continued the propaganda war between the IDF and Hamas. In an article published Sunday in the Wall Street Journal, he accused Hamas of lying to the international community. According to Manelis, Hamas paid $14 to each Gazan who attended the demonstrations, $100 to each family and $500 to any person injured during the clashes.

Israel protected the Gaza border, but death toll means Hamas can claim win too

May 17, 2018

The army repelled every attempted breach during Monday’s deadly clashes, but Hamas got world attention with bloodshed that made Israel look like the bad guy

By Judah Ari Gross
Times of Israel

Palestinians carry an injured man who was shot by Israeli troops during a deadly protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, east of Khan Younis, on May 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Palestinians carry an injured man who was shot by Israeli troops during a deadly protest at the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, east of Khan Younis, on May 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

NEAR THE BORDER WITH GAZA – As Israeli and American officials feted the move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem and superfans thronged to Tel Aviv for a performance by Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai, the Gaza Strip on Monday saw its bloodiest day since the 2014 war, by a wide margin.

Israel and its supporters describe the protests as a Hamas-led military campaign — reportedly funded by the Jewish state’s nemesis, Iran — designed to turn the border area into an active combat zone and allow terrorist operatives to break through the security fence, enter Israeli territory, and carry out attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians, potentially in the form of kidnappings and massacres.

Palestinians and their supporters say the protests are civilian uprisings by a population that is occupied, besieged and oppressed, with one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, which is rapidly heading toward a man-made and wholly preventable humanitarian crisis.

There is validity to both sides’s contentions. There is no absolute contradiction.

Palestinian protesters during clashes with Israeli forces near the Gaza-Israel border in Rafah, Gaza Strip on May 14, 2018. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

By all accounts, the series of “March of Return” protests — which begin on March 30 with Land Day and will end on May 15 with Nakba Day — were first planned by civilian groups, but were later coopted by Hamas, the Islamist terror group that explicitly calls for Israel’s destruction and rules Gaza with an iron fist and a cold heart.

Even Israeli military officials, while maintaining that the riots are Hamas’s latest tactic in its ongoing war with the Jewish state, acknowledge that at least some of the protests on the border are “authentic.” Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, who currently have access to three hours of electricity a day and no reliable sources of clean water, undoubtedly have what to protest against.

But proof of Hamas’s control over the protests was eminently visible on Monday evening. At around 6 p.m., Hamas officials called on protesters to go home and within minutes thousands of them did just that. (Some analysts speculate that Hamas feared the riots were getting out of control, or that Israel might target Hamas leaders.) This was markedly different from how previous weeks’ demonstrations ended, with participation slowly tapering off until nightfall.

According to Israeli military assessments, one of Hamas’s goals for Monday’s protests was a high death toll, to draw international attention to Gaza and international condemnation against Israel — and that objective was achieved.

Throughout the day, the Israeli army stood as an impenetrable steel wall along the border — unwavering, unyielding, and inflexible.

IDF soldiers monitor the Gaza security fence during violent protests along the border on May 14, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

In the weeks and months before the riots, the army laid out its plans and on Monday implemented them to a T. “Determination” — in Hebrew, nechishut — was the word heard most frequently from Israeli officials in connection to the IDF’s strategy, not creativity.

As of Tuesday morning, the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said that 60 Palestinians — at least 24 of them from terrorist groups, according to the IDF — were killed in the clashes, including several who the army says were shot dead as they tried to shoot Israeli soldiers or place improvised explosive devices on the border. Hamas and Islamic Jihad acknowledged that 13 of the dead were members. Some 2,700 Gazans were reportedly injured, about half from gunshots. These figure could not be independently verified.

The Israel Defense Forces called the level of violence by some 40,000 rioters “unprecedented” compared to previous weeks, with repeated efforts breach the fence, shots fired at Israeli troops, and multiple attempts to plant improvised explosive devices along the border.

In addition to direct, armed attacks against IDF troops, many protesters also engaged in lower level violence, hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli soldiers on the other side, rolling burning tires at the fence, dragging away rolls of barbed wire that had been set up by the IDF as an additional barrier, and launching 17 kites laden with rudimentary explosives or containers of burning fuel into Israel, according to the military.

None of these tactics were new; what the army described as “unprecedented” was the intensity.

IDF soldiers monitor the Gaza security fence during violent protests along the border on May 14, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

In response to these attacks, the army used tear gas and, in many cases, live fire. Since the start of the protests, the army has maintained that many of the less-lethal weapons it uses in West Bank protests — water cannons, foul smelling liquids, sponge-tipped bullets — are ineffective in the conditions along the Gaza border.

The IDF said its snipers did not waver from the rules of engagement that it has employed every week since the beginning of the protests on March, which permit the use of deadly force — directed primarily at the lower limbs — in the case of a threat to life or when the security fence is attacked or breached.

There were, however, reports from inside Gaza on Monday of people being shot while they were far from the fence, likely the result of shots missing their target or ricochets.

In addition, Israeli aircraft and tanks targeted 13 Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad positions inside the Gaza Strip.

Defining victory

For Hamas, the high death toll in Gaza, especially when it was juxtaposed with images from the embassy celebration and Netta Barzilai’s Tel Aviv concert, had its desired effect.

Condemnations and accusations of excessive force came from around the world on Monday night. Two countries, South Africa and Turkey, announced they were pulling their ambassadors from Israel, at least temporarily. The Israeli ambassador to Ireland received a formal dressing down.

The United States, however, said Hamas was responsible for the casualties and stressed Israel’s right to defend its borders.

Meanwhile, Israel declared itself the victor.

“Hamas failed in the mission it set for itself,” IDF Spokesperson Ronen Manelis stated on a Monday night TV news broadcast.

All attempts to breach the security fence were repelled. And the only Israeli casualty was a soldier who was lightly wounded by a rock.

Hamas failed in the mission it set for itself

But perhaps most importantly, with the exception of area farmers who worked constantly to monitor their fields and put out fires, sparked by incendiary kites from Gaza, life on the Israeli side of the Gaza border was able to continue unabated.

Schools were open; joggers and cyclists could be spotted along the highways.

The only visible signs of unrest were the fires.

Palestinians burn tires as they clash with Israeli forces near the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, east of Gaza City, on May 14, 2018. (Thomas Coex/AFP)

The air in and around the Gaza Strip hung thick with smoke throughout the day. Inside the coastal enclave, inky black plumes emanated from massive piles of burning tires.

Across the border in Israel, vast swaths of farmland were set ablaze by the so-called “terror kites” from Gaza.

Nearly every yellow wheat field in the Gaza periphery is marred by black splotches of scorched earth.

An Israeli farmer puts out a fire in his wheat field that was started by an incendiary kite from Gaza, outside Kibbutz Nahal Oz in southern Israel, on May 14, 2018. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)

When the final tally comes in, Monday’s protest will likely be found to be the largest in the past seven weeks, edging out the 41,000 from March 30. However, it was far smaller than Hamas, and the Israel Defense Forces, had anticipated. In the days leading up to the riots, upwards of 100,000 people were expected to participate.

Manelis also cited this lack of turnout as proof that Hamas had failed.

Hamas leaders made every effort to bring out as many people as possible — except for themselves. Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh and the head of Hamas in Gaza Yahya Sinwar were notably absent from Monday’s protests.

But schools in the Strip were closed. Fishermen were prohibited from working. Buses were chartered to bring people to the protests. The Gaza-ruling terrorist group even offered to pay people for attending — $100 per family, according to the IDF.

Palestinian protesters gathering along the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel, May 14, 2018. (JACK GUEZ/AFP)

The terror group has also been ratcheting up tensions in the Strip in what Israel believes to be an attempt to make Gaza residents even more desperate and angry. The amount of electricity, which was always scant, was further reduced as Hamas shuttered the Strip’s power plant over a dispute with Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority. Israeli military officials also believe that Hamas ordered rioters to destroy key parts of the Kerem Shalom Crossing into Gaza last Friday, including the Strip’s only fuel pipelines.

But those efforts ultimately appeared to be of little avail.

Winners, losers

In the short term, both Israel and Hamas can claim success of sorts on the Gaza Strip’s bloodiest day in nearly four years.

The IDF defended the border, but at no small cost for its image, and Hamas attracted international attention for Gaza and international condemnation for Israel, at a terrible cost for the people it is supposed to be governing.

The longer term implications of Monday’s clashes are far less clear.

Israel will be asked to justify its use of live fire against what much of the world considers to be unarmed civilian protesters.

Hamas, meanwhile, will have to continue governing the restive Gaza Strip, which is rapidly spiraling into a full-blown humanitarian crisis, and hope that it can maintain its control over a population it is pushing to the brink.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-protected-the-gaza-border-but-death-toll-means-hamas-can-claim-win-too/

READ MORE:

Israeli military shows damage to Iranian bases in Syria

May 11, 2018

Day after sorties, army releases photos of several alleged facilities bombed in raids, including Quds Force military site and logistics center

Image may contain: airplane

Times of Israel
May 11, 2018
.

 

A photo released by the Israeli military on May 11, 2018 showing alleged Iranian intelligence sites in Syria. (IDF Spokesperson)

A photo released by the Israeli military on May 11, 2018 showing alleged Iranian intelligence sites in Syria. (IDF Spokesperson)

The Israeli military published pictures Friday that it said showed Iranian intelligence installations in Syria that it attacked during a massive bombardment a day earlier. The attack was in response to a volley of rockets shot toward northern Israel.

Included in the aerial photos showing the sites before they were attacked are pictures of installations at Tel Gharba, Tel Kleb, Nabi Yusha and Tel Maqdad, according to the Israel Defense Forces spokesperson’s unit.

The pictures could not be immediately verified.

On Thursday morning, F-15 and F-16 fighter jets bombed over 50 Iranian targets throughout Syria as the Israel air force carried out an extensive campaign, dubbed “Operation House of Cards,” to try and destroy Iran’s military presence in the country, the army said Thursday.

A photo released by the Israeli military on May 11, 2018 showing alleged Iranian intelligence sites in Syria. (IDF Spokesperson)

The mission — the largest air campaign carried out by Israel in Syria in over 40 years — was “very successful,” a senior air force officer said Thursday, but warned that Israel believes that Iranian forces in Syria are still in possession of surface-to-surface missiles that could again be fired at Israel.

Image may contain: night

This photo provided early Thursday, May 10, 2018, by the government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media, shows missiles rise into the sky as Israeli missiles hit air defense position and other military bases, in Damascus, Syria. (Syrian Central Military Media, via AP)

The sortie came after Iran fired 20 missiles toward Israel just after midnight on Thursday morning. Four of the missiles were knocked down by the Iron Dome air defense system and the rest failed to reach Israeli territory, according to the IDF.

The army also published pictures Friday of what it said was an Iranian Quds Force compound in al-Kisweh, south of Damascus, and an “Iranian Logistics Compound” 10 kilometers northwest of the capital.

A photo released by the Israeli military on May 11, 2018 showing an alleged Iranian military site in Syria. (IDF Spokesperson)

The army did not specify exactly where the logistics center is, but identified warehouses, offices, a gas station and a headquarters in its picture.

A photo released by the Israeli military on May 11, 2018 showing an alleged Iranian logistics site in Syria. (IDF Spokesperson)

Al-Kisweh was identified last year as the site of a possible Iranian base in Syria, and has been hit several times by reported Israeli airstrikes. The picture published by the army claims to show large storage buildings and logistics vehicles.

On Tuesday, an apparent Israeli airstrike in the area reportedly targeted an “arms depot belonging to Hezbollah and the Iranians,” according to Rami Abd el-Rahman, director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Thursday’s sorties targeted IRGC intelligence centers, weapons depots, storage facilities, observation posts, and logistics centers in Syria, as well as the rocket launcher that carried out the initial attack, the army said.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said that the IDF had destroyed “nearly all” of Iran’s military infrastructure sites in Syria.

In addition to the strikes on the Iranian targets, the army also targeted multiple Syrian air defense systems. According to the IDF, its strikes targeted the Russian-made long-range SA-5, also known as the S-200, which is the predecessor of the more advanced S-300 and S-400; the Russian high altitude SA-2, or S-75; the Russian short- to medium-range SA-22, also known as the Pantsir-S1; and the SA-17 medium-range air defense system, also known as the Buk.

On Thursday night, the military released footage of the strike on the Pantsir-S1, filmed direct from the Israeli missile as it struck the anti-aircraft battery.

Image result for Pantsir-S1, photos

Pantsir-S1

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 23 fighters were killed in the Israeli strikes, including 18 foreigners.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/idf-pictures-show-targeted-iranian-intel-sites-in-syria/

READ MORE:

Israel and Iran lurch closer to all-out war in Syria after alleged rocket attack on Golan Heights

May 10, 2018

Image may contain: sky, night, cloud and outdoor

Missile fire is seen from Damascus, Syria May 10, 2018. REUTERS-Omar Sanadiki

By Raf Sanchez
The Telegraph
May 10, 2018

Israel and Iran lurched closer to an all out war in Syria on Thursday after Iranian forces allegedly fired rockets into the Golan Heights and Israel responded with some of its heaviest airstrikes in years.

The exchange of fire was the most direct confrontation between the Middle East rivals after years of escalating tensions in Syria and came just one day after Donald Trump pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear agreement and reimposed sanctions on Tehran.

According to the Israeli military, Iranian forces based in Syria fired a barrage of around 20 rockets at Israeli troops in the Golan, the mountainous region Israel captured from Syrian in 1967 and has occupied since.

No Israelis were hurt and there was only limited damage to Israeli positions in the Golan, a military spokesman said.

Israel said the Quds Force, the expeditionary wing of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, carried out the attack at around 12.10am on Thursday. Israel accused General Qassem Soleimani, the leader of the Quds Force, of being behind the attack.

“It was ordered and commanded by Qassem Soleimani and it has not achieved its purpose,” said Lt Col Jonathan Conricus, a spokesman for the Israeli Defence Forces.

Air defence systems intercept Israeli missiles over Syrian airspace, the Syrian Arab News Agency reports
Syrian forces fired missiles at the Israeli attack CREDIT: AFP

Israel struck back with widespread strikes against dozens of targets inside Syria, Lt Col Conricus said. The attack appeared to be one of the largest Israel has carried out since it began periodic strikes against Iran and its ally Hizbollah inside of Syria.

Among the targets were Iranian intelligence bases, a Quds force logistics headquarters, and a weapons depot at the Damascus international airport, according to Israel.

Syrian regime air defence systems also fired missiles at attacking Israeli aircraft. Israel said that it struck several of the anti-aircraft systems and also destroyed the Iranian Uragan rocket launcher used to fire the rockets into the Golan.

Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system brought down four of the rockets, the military said.

Syrian state media reported Israeli missile attacks targeting Baath City in Quneitra, near the border with the Golan Heights. The Syrian regime said it had intercepted several missiles over Damascus, Homs and the southern city of Suwayda.

Missiles fire is seen over Damascus
Missiles seen over Damascus CREDIT: REUTERS

There was no immediate word on casualties inside Syria.

Israel said it had informed Russia, Syria’s ally, of the strikes before carrying out the attack. The Israeli and Russian militaries have a “deconfliction channel” designed to stop the two sides from accidentally attacking each other in the crowded skies above Syria.

A long-running cold war between Israel and Iran across the Syrian border has turned increasingly hot in recent months. At least seven Iranians were killed on April 9 during a suspected Israeli strike on the T4 airbase in central Syria, prompting Iran to vow revenge against Israel.

Hours after Mr Trump announced he was pulling the US out of the Iran deal on Wednesday, Israel allegedly carried out a strike against an Iranian facility south of Damascus. Nine people were reported killed, including some Iranian fighters.

In February, Iran allegedly launched an armed drone from Syria into Israel. Israel shot down the drone and carried out a wave of airstrikes in response. One Israeli F-16 was shot down by Syrian air defence systems during the attack, the first time Israel has lost a warplane in combat since 1982.

Israel has said repeatedly it will not allow Iran to build up a permanent military presence in Syria and is prepared to go to war to stop it.

“We are determined to block Iran’s aggression against us even if this means a struggle. Better now than later,” Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, said last week.

“Nations that were unprepared to take timely action to counter murderous aggression against them paid much heavier prices afterwards.”

While Israel has scored tactical military victories over Iran in Syria, it has struggled with a broader diplomatic campaign to convince world powers to rein in Iran’s build up in Syria.

Netanyahu stands beside Vladimir Putin (Reuters/M. Shemetov)

Mr Netanyahu travels regularly to Moscow – his last visit was on Wednesday – to urge Vladimir Putin to pressure Iran out of Syria. So far the diplomatic effort has yielded few visible results on the Iranian question.

Syrian media said Thursday’s attack was the first time in years that Syrians had fired at Israeli forces in the Golan Heights.

Israel has been on heightened alert in recent days, anticipating an Iranian attack. Israeli residents of the Golan Heights were told to ready their bomb shelters on Tuesday after Israel spotted what it called “irregular activity of Iranian forces in Syria”.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/05/10/israel-fires-barrage-missiles-syria-accusing-iranian-forces/

Related:

See also:

Rockets fired at Israel from Syria, Israel says

https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/09/middleeast/israel-rockets-syria/index.html

Israel Strikes Iranian Targets in Syria as Regional Tensions Mount

May 10, 2018

Move is retaliation for Golan Heights rocket fire; escalating clashes come as Trump tries to get allies to join the U.S. in confronting Iran across the region

Missile fire is seen from Damascus on Thursday.
Missile fire is seen from Damascus on Thursday. PHOTO: OMAR SANADIKI/REUTERS

Israel’s military carried out strikes against Iranian targets in Syria after it said Iranian forces based there fired rockets at its soldiers in the Golan Heights, raising the risk of a wider regional war just a day after President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the international nuclear deal with Tehran.

Iran’s attack in the Golan appears to be the first time Iran has opened fire from Syria on Israeli targets. The Israeli military said dozens of Iranian military sites across southern and central Syria were struck. The Israeli military called the strikes—which focused on sites related to logistics, intelligence, and ammunition storage—its largest-ever operation against Iranian positions in Syria.

“It will take substantial time for the Iranians to replenish these systems,” said Jonathan Cornricus, an Israeli military spokesman.

In a separate incident, Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen fired a barrage of missiles into Saudi Arabia on Wednesday. The pair of attacks were an early indication that Iran and its allies are flexing their muscles in the Middle East after Washington’s move.

The strikes heightened tensions in a region already on edge and underlined the risk of direct confrontation between Iran and Israel following the U.S. exit from the nuclear agreement. Iran, until now, had held back from any retaliatory response to recent Israeli strikes on its assets in Syria.

The escalating clashes come as the Trump administration works to rally allies to join the U.S. in confronting Iran and its backers across the Middle East.

One of Mr. Trump’s biggest criticisms of the 2015 nuclear-containment deal with Iran was that it didn’t do anything to halt Tehran’s support for destabilizing militant groups stretching from Lebanon to Yemen.

But Pentagon officials have been reluctant to turn their military focus in Syria from Islamic State toward Iranian forces and their proxies. Military leaders worry that confronting Iran in Syria could risk dangerous blowback to thousands of U.S. forces working in Iraq and Syria.

When he withdrew from the Iran deal, Mr. Trump directed the U.S. military to draw up new plans “to meet, swiftly and decisively, all possible modes of Iranian aggression against the United States, our allies and our partners.” U.S. officials couldn’t say on Wednesday how that would play out for U.S. forces in the days and weeks ahead.

A long-exposure picture that reportedly shows Israeli missiles headed toward Syrian military targets on the Golan Heights near the Israeli-Syrian border.

For now, the Trump administration has offered unequivocal support for Israel’s escalatory strikes inside Syria. Israel has grown increasingly alarmed by Iran’s presence in Syria, where it has used its support for President Bashar al-Assad to build up its military strength.

Israel has said that it won’t allow Iran to put down deep roots in Syria, and its military has hit a series of Iranian targets in recent weeks. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mr. Trump have established a close working relationship. Mr. Netanyahu has repeatedly conferred with Mr. Trump about Iran’s military activities in the Middle East and Israel’s plans to strike Iranian targets.

In rejecting the Iran deal on Tuesday, Mr. Trump cited the Israeli leader’s recent presentation on Iran’s covert nuclear-weapons program as a central example of why Tehran couldn’t be trusted. Mr. Trump also laid out a new list of demands that Tehran must meet, including ending its “quest to destroy Israel” and cutting of its support for Mr. Assad in Syria.

Some critics of Mr. Trump said the president’s decision to scrap the Iran deal was already increasing the risk of an expanding confrontation between Israel and Iran.

Iran’s barrage in the Golan Heights—which caused no injuries and only limited damage to property, the Israeli army said—came after suspected Israeli missiles targeted an Iran-linked army base south of Syria’s capital, Damascus, on Tuesday, shortly after Mr. Trump said the U.S. would withdraw from the international nuclear deal with Iran.

The Israeli military’s official Arabic-language spokesman, Avichay Adraee, said Israel was carrying out retaliatory strikes against Iranian targets in Syria and warned that Syrian involvement against it would “be met with great severity.”

Mr. Cornricus, the Israeli military spokesman, said none of the 20 rockets fired at Israel landed in the country—four were shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome system and the rest fell short in Syrian territory.

The Iranian attack was launched around 30 kilometers to 40 kilometers south of Damascus, near the town of al-Kisweh, the military spokesperson said. In the Iranian attack, rockets were fired from a multi-barrel launcher fixed atop a moving truck, Mr. Cornricus said. The Israeli army allegedly hit targets on Tuesday night at al Kisweh, killing eight Iranians, according to the he U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group.

The Syrian state news agency said its military’s air defenses had “confronted” Israeli missiles and reported Israeli shelling in the Syrian city of Baath, near Israel’s northern border. Later, the agency said a fresh wave of Israeli missiles was intercepted in the vicinity of Damascus, the capital. On social media, activists reported loud explosions to the south and northeast of the city.

Israel is targeting some air-defense systems and radar, the agency reported, publishing pictures and videos of Syrian air defenses intercepting what it said were Israeli missiles.

Israel has been bracing for Iranian retaliation to a number of alleged strikes in Syria but particularly for an attack last month when presumed Israeli missiles hit an Iranian-controlled base deep in Syria. The Observatory said as many as 18 Iranians were killed in that attack, though Iran denied there were any casualties.

The Israeli military spokesman Mr. Cornricus said the Iranian Quds Force, an arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was behind the attack Wednesday night. He declined to explain how Israel knew about the role of the Quds Force in the attack.

A few of the rockets fired at Israeli forces were shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome rocket-defense system, Mr. Cornricus said. The projectiles were fired at several Israeli military bases on the front line with Syria, he said.

“The Israel Defense Forces view this event with great severity and remain prepared for a wide variety of scenarios,” the Israeli military said in a statement.

An Iranian official at the country’s United Nations mission didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Write to Dion Nissenbaum at dion.nissenbaum@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/iranian-forces-fire-rockets-at-israeli-targets-in-golan-1525912963

Related:

See also:

Rockets fired at Israel from Syria, Israel says

https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/09/middleeast/israel-rockets-syria/index.html

Israel Told U.S. and Russia It Will Retaliate if Iran Attacks From Syria

April 30, 2018

Officials believe Israel should strike Iran if Tehran carries out attacks against population centers through Syria or Hezbollah. Defense officials, on the other hand, caution against taking the conflict out of Syria’s borders

.Fire and explosions are seen in what purported to be the Mountain 47 region, countryside south of Hama city, Syria, April 29, 2018 in this picture obtained from social media. Abody Ahfad Khaled /via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. MANDATORY CREDIT. CREDIT: ABODY AHFAD KHALED
Fire and explosions are seen in what purported to be the Mountain 47 region, countryside south of Hama city, Syria, April 29, 2018 in this picture obtained from social media. Abody Ahfad Khaled /via R\ SOCIAL MEDIA/ REUTERS

Defense and political sources told Russia and the United States, following Iran’s threats to react against attacks on their assets in Syria overnight, that if Iran attacks Israel from Syria, either itself or through its proxy Hezbollah, Jerusalem will not hold back and will respond forcefully, targeting Iranian soil.

>> Strike likely targeted surface-to-surface missiles Iran seeks to deploy in Syria

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he will give a speech at 8 PM tonight to reveal “new intelligence information on Iran.”

The comments come amid Iran’s threats to react against attacks on their assets in Syria, allegedly by Israel. According to the Israeli officials, Israel will attack broadly, aiming to significantly damage Iranian interests in Syria. The main target would be bases where Iranian forces have been located since the Syrian civil war began. These bases serve as conduits to transfer weapons and gear up for further Iranian establishment in Syria.

In recent weeks, Israeli political and military circles have been deliberating how to respond if Iran reacts to the raids ascribed to Israel. Officials say that if Iran hits population centers inside Israel, even if it does so through Syria or with the assistance of Hezbollah or other militias, the response should be on Iranian soil.

>> What happens if Trump pulls out of the Iran nuclear deal? ■ Strike likely targeted surface-to-surface missiles Iran seeks to deploy in Syria

Conversely, military sources opine that the reaction should be confined to Syria, while causing damage to Iranian interests, arguing it would not be right to widen the conflict to encompass Iran directly.

Despite the tension, the Israel Defense Forces continues to operate according to the existing policy regarding fighting in Syria, under which convoys transporting arms to Hezbollah will continue to be attacked and efforts to thwart Iran’s bid to establish itself in Syria will continue.

On the other hand, defense officials fear Moscow is less understanding towards Israel than it was in the past. Russia’s statements on its plans to transfer to Syria and Lebanon advanced air defense systems, led the possibility to be raised that Israel would attack Assad’s regime in response. For the time being, these ideas do not have enough support, due to fear of the Russian response.

Palestinians Renew Protest on Gaza Border, Three Reported Wounded From Israeli Fire

April 6, 2018

Haaretz

Palestinians report Israeli forces have opened fire on protesters setting tires on fire east of Jabaliya ■ Israeli Arab and Gazan NGOs petition Israel’s Attorney General to stop use of live ammunition

.Palestinian protesters cover during clashes with Israeli troops along Gaza's border with Israel, east of Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Thursday, April 5, 2018
Palestinian protesters cover during clashes with Israeli troops along Gaza’s border with Israel, east of Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Thursday, April 5, 2018Adel Hana/AP

Confrontations between the Israel Defense Forces and Palestinians resumed Friday along the border fence in the Gaza Strip, as protesters set tires on fire. Palestinian media reports that three were wounded from IDF fire east of Jabaliya.

According to IDF spokesperson, violent protests involving hundreds of Palestinians have been taking place since the morning in five “hotspots” along the border fence. IDF troops are using riot desperal methods and live fire in accordance with protocol.

In light of assessments, the IDF declared the area around the fence a closed military zone.

Local councils report that despite a substantial presence of IDF, Police and Fire Brigade forces along the border, no special directions were given to residents as of yet.

Thousands of Palestinians are making their were towards friction points along the fence. Hamas is mandating all of its platoon officers to join the protests along with their family members. The IDF currently assesses there will be less demonstrators this Friday compared to last week, but not by a large margin.

.Soldiers stand in front of the Gaza border fence, facing a wall of black smoke raising from the burning tires, April 6, 2018

Soldiers stand in front of the Gaza border fence, facing a wall of black smoke raising from the burning tires, April 6, 2018.  Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Palestinians have begun torching tires near friction points along the border in hopes that the thick black smoke would impair IDF snipers’ vision. As of now, these are done away from the fence.

In preperation for the rallies, tractors expanded the encampment near Khan Yunis in the southern strip, and have mounded sand heaps along the fence to protect demonstrators from IDF fire.

The Adalah Legal Center and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, based in Gaza, petitioned Israel’s Attorney General and the IDF’s Military Advocate General and requested they explicitly order Israeli forces to refrain from using any kind of live fire, including snipers.

“Live fire against protesters in Gaza is against international law and Israeli law,” read the statement. “We state and emphasize again that this infringement amplifies itself in the face of clear criminal dimensions in light of the fact that it is premeditated, on the basis of intention to use live ammunition illegally.”

The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza reported Friday on the death of Tair Mohammed Raba’a, a 30-year-old protester who was wounded near the border fence last week. Raba’a raises the Palestinian death toll to 22 since the March of Return began on March 30.

The Israeli military expects some 50,000 Palestinians to participate in Friday’s planned protests near the border fence with the Gaza Strip in five separate locations, an increase over the 35,000 who came out to protest last Friday. At a meeting on Thursday senior army officials also discussed the possibility that Hamas would exploit the chaos surrounding the protests in order to commit an attack inside Israeli territory.

On Thursday, Israel reinforced the military presence near the border fence. The rules of engagement during the protests are to remain unchanged, meaning that snipers will be permitted to shoot at anyone on the Gaza side of the fence who approaches close to it with the intention of crossing into Israel. Human rights organizations in the country and international groups have criticized this protocol, which they say led to the unjustified killing of unarmed Palestinians.