IDF says it thwarted Hamas, prevented ‘victory picture’ of breached border fence

As night fell on the second successive Friday’s Hamas-backed “March of Return” at the Gaza border, the Israeli army said it had managed to frustrate what it called the terror group’s “manipulative” efforts to breach the border fence and carry out acts of terrorism under the cover of a public protest.

The Palestinian Authority meanwhile said it “strongly condemned” the killing of “peaceful” protesters in Gaza.

The IDF released video footage of Gazans attempting to breach or target the fence under cover of huge plumes of black smoke caused by the burning of tires close to the border, and Israeli television showed footage of what appeared to be teenage Gazans rolling tires close to the border fence.

“What we’re saying is violent disturbances under cover of which Hamas is trying to carry out acts of terrorism,” said Maj-Gen. Eyal Zamir, the head of the IDF’s Southern Command, terming the tactic “manipulation by Hamas.”

“Hamas sent children out ahead [toward the fence], cynically using them,” the IDF’s spokesman, Ronen Manelis, said on Friday night. Manelis specified that eight explosive devices and numerous petrol bombs were thrown, and that the IDF faced several attempts “to cut through the fence.”

“There were attempts to carry out acts of terrorism … using the smoke [from burning tires] for cover,” he said, but the IDF had ensured the fence was not breached.

Israeli military officials indicated that the IDF’s warnings to Gazans to stay back from the fence, and its firm defense of the border at last week’s protests, had a deterrent effect. Far fewer demonstrators came near the fence, they said.

Hadashot TV news said imams at prayer sessions near the border during the day told Gazans to stay at least 300 meters from the border. Hamas leaders, who did circulate among the demonstrators, did not approach as close to the fence as they did a week ago, it also reported.

Read More: Times of Israel