Tensions on the Gaza frontier once again spiked over the weekend, after thousands of Palestinians flooded to the border region with Israel to participate in the 50th so-called “March of Return.”
Similar to previous weekly demonstrations, the majority of the protesters remained at camps erected by the Islamist Hamas organization several hundred meters from the Israel-Gaza border-fence, although hundreds of youth approached the separation barrier at a number of separate locations to hurl rocks and improvised-explosives at IDF troops. ” The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit reported that “over 8,000 Palestinians took part in the demonstration” and that some “attempted to breach the fence into Israel.” An army spokesperson told TV7 that the army “responded with riot dispersal means, and fired in accordance with standard operating procedures.”
Gaza’s Health Ministry claimed a 23-year-old man was killed during Friday’s protest, and 42 others injured. Several hours after dispersal of the violent protest, Palestinian Islamists launched a rocket toward Israel’s southern communities. Air raid sirens sounded throughout the Eshkol Regional Council ahead of an explosion in an uninhabited area, that caused no injuries or damage. The Israeli Air Force responded with strikes against “several military targets in a Hamas compound in a southern district of the Strip,” as well as a subterranean structure in the north. The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit stressed that the retaliatory action came in response not only for the rocket fire, but other ongoing violence from the enclave over the last several days – including airborne incendiary attacks and attempts to damage Israeli security infrastructure on the border.
As tens of thousands of Israelis enjoyed wonderful weather in the south of the country on Saturday, another balloon-cluster loaded with an anti-tank shell landed in a wooded area at the Sdot Negev Regional Council. Thankfully, none of those hiking in the area were harmed by the bomb, which failed to detonate on impact and was later defused by police sappers. The police spokesperson’s unit was not immediately available to TV7’s request for additional information.
The attack was soon followed by the firing of another rocket from Gaza at southern Israeli communities in the Eshkol Regional Council. The projectile once again fell short of residential areas, and inflicted no casualties or reported-damage. IDF fighter jets responded with strikes against several targets including a “Hamas compound in the northern Gaza Strip” and two sea vessels used Islamist Hamas naval commandos. T
The IDF reiterated that it “views any attempt to harm Israeli civilians with great severity,” and vowed “to continue to operate with determination against these acts of terror.” It further underscored that “the Hamas terror organization is accountable for all events (that transpire) in the Gaza Strip,” including all terror that emanates from the hostile Palestinian enclave.
According to Eshkol Regional Council Chairman, Gadi Yarkoni, “children in the Gaza periphery communities are having trouble sleeping,” which he said “ should keep policymakers and the people responsible for the security of Israel’s citizens up at night.” In a written statement Yarkoni stressed that residents of the area, which is most- frequently subjected to the cross-border violence, have been living in a protracted state of emergency for months. As part of his call for the Israeli government to find a long-term resolution of the crisis, Yarkoni insisted the issue be prominently featured on the political agendas of parliamentary candidates for the April 9th elections.
Meanwhile in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened Hamas with dire consequences to the terror stemming from its territory. During the weekly cabinet meeting, the Premier stressed that contrary to speculation by Gaza-based Islamist groups the renewed violence might force an electoral postponement, that Israel will launch a wide-ranging operation if security and quiet are not restored on the southern frontier.