At least seven Palestinians were killed in the second week of Hamas instigated violence as 20,000 gathered along the border with Israel on Friday, throwing rocks and firebombs. Massive amounts of tires were burned in an attempt to obscure attempts to approach the security fence.
“Our forces are using riot disposal means and live fire in accordance with the rules of engagement,” the army said in a statement. Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said Hamas organizers were trying to use protesters as a diversion to “open up the fence and then to insert terrorists into Israel.” Conricus said snipers were used “sparingly” and only against those individuals that posed a “significant threat.”
Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar led the protests at one of the five major protest sites, calling for the protestors to “breach the borders and pray at Al Aqsa (on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem).”
He added: “If we explode, we will explode at the Israeli occupation.
The rioters responded by chanting, “We are going to Jerusalem, millions of martyrs.”
Ahead of Friday’s march, Hamas announced it would pay compensation to families of those killed or injured, ranging from $200 to $500 per injury and $3,000 per death.
16 Palestinians were killed last week in violent protests that coincided with Land Day, most identified as being members of Hamas’ military wing.
US Envoy Jason Greenblatt put the blame for the violence entirely on Hamas. Greenblatt said protesters “should remain outside the 500-meter buffer zone; and should not approach the border fence in any way or any location.”
He added, in a statement: “We condemn leaders and protestors who call for violence or who send protestors — including children — to the fence, knowing that they may be injured or killed. Instead, we call for a renewed focus by all parties on finding solutions to the dire humanitarian challenges facing Gazans.”
For the second week in a row, the US has blocked a UN Security Council blocked a Kuwaiti led call for an independent probe into the Palestinian casualties. Israel has responded that it is performing its own impartial investigation.
Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, called for a UN investigation into Hamas’ role in the violence.
“The [Security] Council must condemn Hamas for its exploitation of children as human shields, risking their lives, and must call for an end to the provocations that only increase violence and tension,” Danon said in a statement on Friday.
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Source: Israel in the News