« March of Return » - Background and Current Situation
Background - Timing
· The March of Return plan will be a series of ongoing events which will take place over the course of six weeks, between March 30 (Land Day) and May 15 (Nakba Day). A tent camp (or camps) will be set up near the security fence on the Israeli border, where thousands of Palestinian families will stay.
· The campaign will peak with a march of thousands of Palestinians to the Israeli border, probably on Nakba Day (no time table is not final).
Nature of the events
· Spokesmen for the campaign continue stressing that their intention is to hold a non-political, “peaceful protest,” but they do not rule out the possibility that the marchers who reach the border fence will try to enter Israeli territory, clashing with the IDF..
· Despite their public statements that there is no intention to use violence, events are liable to get out of control and turn into riots and clashes with the IDF, and Hamas and the other terrorist organizations may be drawn into participating in them..
FACTS of the Situation
· The border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip separates a sovereign state and a terrorist organization.
· It separates a state that protects its citizens from murderers who send their countrymen into danger. The fence separates an army that uses force in self-defense and in a focused and proportionate manner, and Hamas, an organization that sanctifies murder and death, that for years – yesterday included - has been intent on harming millions of Israelis.
· Anyone who mistakenly views in this murderous spectacle even an iota of freedom of expression is blind to the threats the State of Israel faces.
· This is not a demonstration; it is a means for Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad to carry out terror attacks.
· For several weeks, the IDF has been receiving information on Hamas’ intentions to take advantage of the event to lay IEDs and to initiate terror attacks. These events actually occurred, including the firing of light arms – two events, laying of IEDs – 4 mines were placed alongside the fence with Gaza, and hundreds of events of stone throwing and lobbing of Molotov cocktails.
· Hamas is attempting to redirect the frustration of the citizens of Gaza with its failures towards Israel.
· The area surrounding the fence is a combat zone against terrorist organizations. Hamas is aware of this, and therefore sends women and children into the area, hoping to provoke the IDF into uncontrolled shooting resulting in multiple cases of innocent casualties. Most of the participants in the demonstration (a total of 30,000 participants) were women and children, while all the casualties are of combat age, aged between 18 and 30, and for the most part are known members of terrorist organizations.
• Hamas attempted to repeat a previous attempt of placing an IED in a flag, similar to an attempt several days ago, which wounded four soldier. See video “Gaza Terror Cell Stopped by IDF During March of Return”
· IDF fire was controlled and in accordance with standard procedures. It is known where every bullet hit. Claims of hundreds of Palestinian casualties refer for the most part to inhalation of smoke or as the result of riot control procedures. Hamas intends to turn the fence area into an area of constant confrontation from now until Nakba Day on 15 May. The IDF won’t permit this, and if the events continue will be forced to attack Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad targets in the Strip.
· The State of Israel has no interest in harming innocents, neither women nor children. We are acting only to prevent terror and violation of Israeli sovereignty. It should be remembered that this is an attempt to violate an undisputed sovereign border. No country would permit this.
• Claims that this is a demonstration are baseless. In what demonstration do activists draw weapons and shoot at the other side? In yesterday’s events this occurred twice. Four IEDs were placed, hundreds or Molotov cocktails were thrown, including attempts to ignite Israeli mechanical equipment that was parked on our side of the fence. There were also three failed attempts at high trajectory fire during the night.