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IDF Braces for Escalation as Hamas Won't Hold Protesters Back

IDF on Gaza border, April 1, 2018 (Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

After mass protests and riots on the Gaza border beginning last Friday, Israel is preparing for such violence to continue. Israel Hayom's Nikki Guttman reports that the IDF is bracing for further escalation on Israel's border with Gaza, while warning the Gaza-based terror group Hamas not to use the protests as cover for terrorist attacks:

Israeli military officials on Sunday predicted an escalation of the violent protests on the Israel-Gaza Strip border after Hamas leader said that the group would not try to prevent Palestinian demonstrators from rioting or approaching the security fence in future border protests.

The IDF has increased its deployment near the southern security fence in the wake of the violence seen during Friday's Hamas-orchestrated march on the border.Some 30,000 Palestinians took part in the march, during which hundreds of rioters hurled firebombs, torched tires and stoned Israeli troops. Seventeen people were killed, 10 of them known terrorists, and some 1,400 were wounded in the border riots...

As tensions on the Israel-Gaza Strip border rise, four separate incidents of border infiltrations were noted last week. On Sunday, three Palestinians infiltrated the border and were promptly arrested by Israeli troops. The three were unarmed and were handed over to the Shin Bet security agency for questioning.

The military is concerned that as well as infiltration attempts, Palestinian terrorist would attempt to carry out shooting attacks, place explosives on the border, or use anti-tank missiles against the troops patrolling the fence.

Another concern is rocket fire on the border-adjacent communities and Israel's south as a whole in the event that further clashes between the IDF and protesters on the border would result in a large number of Palestinian casualties.

A senior officer with the Southern Command said that Hamas "could decide to exact a price from the IDF using sniper fire or attacks [carried out] under the cover of the protests.

"If that happens, Hamas is risking a forceful military response that could reach beyond the fence..."

Tags: Hamas , IDF , Gaza

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