Senior Hamas official Salah Bardawil said yesterday that at least 50 of those killed in violence on the Gaza border on Monday were members of Hamas.
Bardawil confirmed the details in an interview on Palestinian Baladna TV. He said: “In the last rounds of confrontations, if 62 people were martyred, 50 of the martyrs were Hamas and 12 from the people. How can Hamas reap the fruits if it pays such an expensive price?”
In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the number “is why Israel will continue to defend itself as long as necessary and won’t let the people who call for its destruction to breach our borders and to threaten to annihilate us. We will protect the State of Israel”.
He added that yesterday’s relative quiet on the border was due to “the determination of the IDF soldiers who are defending our borders. They aren’t defending against some civilian demonstration. This is a belligerent act by Hamas”.
Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar told Al Jazeera that “when we talk about ‘peaceful resistance,’ we are deceiving the public. This is a peaceful resistance bolstered by a military force and by security agencies, and enjoying tremendous popular support”.
The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said Tuesday that an initial investigation by the IDF and the Shin Bet found 24 of the 61 Palestinians killed were terrorists affiliated mostly with Hamas, with some being members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
The IDF yesterday also released footage of a Hamas activist who was captured earlier in the week trying to infiltrate into Israel. According to the IDF, the Hamas activist admitted on that Hamas was directing people toward the border fence knowing they’ll get hurt in order to prevent an uprising against the group’s failed governance of the Gaza Strip.
He said: “Hamas controls everything in the strip. Hamas sends us messages to our Facebook accounts and to our cellphones. They come to mosques handing leaflet saying to go to the fence. When there’s electricity, and televisions can be turned on all you can see is the march. People got worn down and bored, and I’m one of those people.”
IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told reporters that “Hamas is behind these riots, and the branding of the riots as ‘peaceful protests’ could not be further from the truth”.