Israel Lifts Restrictions on Gaza Despite Weekend Border Riots

Amid a tense calm that continues to hold along the Israel-Gaza frontier, some 6,000 Palestinians participated in a mass border demonstration on the first Friday of the Muslim month of Ramadan. Several hundred of the protesters sought to inflame the situation by rioting close to the security barrier at five separate locations. During the violence, one Palestinian was reportedly killed and thirty others injured. The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit told TV7 that the rioters hurled rocks and explosive devices toward Israeli troops stationed along the security parameter, who responded with crowd-dispersal-means and in accordance with the rules of engagement dictated by Jerusalem, the use of live fire on several occasions at suspects seeking to damage Israeli security infrastructure. In a video published on the IDF Arabic-language Spokesperson’s Twitter account, dozens of Palestinian rioters can be seen attempting to break the security fence in the enclave’s southern Rafah region. LT.-Col. Avichay Adraee stressed in a statement that the Friday riots “produce an environment of violence and terrorism that contrasts the general population in the Gaza Strip, especially during the Muslim month of Ramadan.”

Despite the violent incidents on Friday, the Islamist Hamas organization released a statement in which it insisted that the truce reached with Israel continue to hold. According to Hamas Spokesperson Abdel Latif al-Qanoa, ‘U.N. Special Envoy Nikolay Mladenov held a phone conversation with Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh, during which he provided the Islamist leader with assurances that Israel would abide by the ceasefire arrangement.’

In accordance with the Egyptian-brokered arrangement, Israel reopened its border crossings with Gaza, and lifted some restrictions on imported goods. Furthermore, Israel’s Coordinator for Government Activities announced that it once again expanded the permitted fishing zone to 12 nautical miles off the enclave’s Mediterranean coast.

It is important to note that prior to the implementation of the Israeli measures, senior Islamic Jihad commander Khaled al-Batash threatened to renew cross-border violence. Al-Batash stressed that his Iranian-backed group would assess Israel’s compliance and will re-evaluate its adherence to the presiding ceasefire, if Jerusalem would deviate from its commitments.