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Armed Palestinians break through Gaza border fence

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) arrested two armed Palestinians who broke through the Gaza border fence on Thursday morning, the fourth such incident this week.

According to the IDF, “forces apprehended two Palestinian suspects who infiltrated Israel from the southern Gaza Strip. The suspects were apprehended near the point of infiltration, carrying two wire cutters and a knife and were transferred to security forces for further questioning”.

Thursday’s incident was the latest in a series of attempts to enter Israel from the Gaza border fence. On Wednesday, two Palestinians attacked the border fence and set fire to it. In response, the IDF fired shells at two Hamas observation posts nearby. On Tuesday, three armed Gazans broke through the border fence and managed to get 20km inside Israel before they were apprehended.

Tensions between Israel and armed factions in Gaza are expected to increase on Friday 30 March as protestors mark “Land Day,” commemorating the 1976 Israeli Government decision to requisition land. Large numbers of Palestinians are expected to march on the Israeli border from Gaza, Syria and Lebanon.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai warned bus companies in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday evening not to cooperate with Hamas by driving residents toward the border fence as part of the protest this Friday.

As part of the preparation, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said: “We have deployed more than 100 sharpshooters who were called up from all of the military’s units, primarily from the Special Forces. If lives are in jeopardy, there is permission to open fire.” Border Police units with crowd dispersal equipment, including drones that can drop tear gas, will also take part in the operation.

Speaking about the situation on the Gaza border, Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said: “I think the military is well prepared, we are ready for any scenario. We are doing everything so that this holiday will pass peacefully, in security and happiness.”

All border crossings to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will be closed to Palestinians from midnight Thursday until midnight on Saturday, 7 April, with the exception of humanitarian, medical and exceptional cases.