Violent Nights on the Border

The Fellowship  |  February 21, 2019

Palestinian protesters take part in a night demonstration near the fence along the border with Israel, east of Gaza City, on February 11, 2019. - Palestinians in Gaza have for nearly a year gathered at least weekly along the border for often-violent protests, calling on Israel to end its blockade of the enclave. (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP) (Photo credit should read MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images)

As tensions on Israel’s southern border heighten, so too does the risk of greater conflict between Gaza’s ruling terrorist group Hamas and the IDF. Haaretz’s Yaniv Kubovich writes that the growing risk is directly related to the growing violence being perpetrated by Palestinian rioters:

Violent nighttime incidents along the Gaza-Israel border are creating a new risk of a broader conflict with Hamas and are different in nature than the weekly protests that have been carried out on the border on Fridays for almost a year.

On Monday evening, another violent nighttime demonstration took place across the border from Kibbutz Nahal Oz. These protests are led by a Hamas special night forces unit and are aimed at harassing Israeli soldiers and residents of Israeli border communities near the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. The nighttime unit is comprised of older, more experienced operatives, in contrast to the young men who are prominent at the Friday protests, and the level of violence is much higher at the nighttime demonstrations.

On Monday, dozens of Palestinians began arriving at the border fence shortly before dark, at around 5 P.M., equipped with tires to burn and other gear. As soon as darkness fell, they began burning the tires and tried to roll them as close as possible to the fence to make it harder for Israeli snipers to spot and to target key operatives on the Gaza side…

The Israeli army is handling the nighttime demonstrations differently from the weekly Friday protests, which take place during the day. The combination of the darkness, the extreme violence, the fear of Palestinian infiltrations and the bombs thrown at soldiers have all led officers to order increased use of live fire.

This increases the risk of Palestinian casualties, which in turn could elicit a violent response from Hamas or Islamic Jihad in Gaza. And that point, the path to broader escalation is short…

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