Saturday, February 22, 2014

22-Feb-14: On Israel's Gaza border, tensions are rising, rockets are crashing, terrorists are plotting

Rock throwers on the Gazan side of the border are dispersed, Friday February 21
[Image Source: AFP]
Far from the attention of most reporters working in this part of the world, Israel's shared border with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip remains volatile. An Aljazeera report from Friday, quoting Hamas "medical sources" says
At least 13 men were wounded in fighting not far from Jabaliya northeast of Gaza City... Ashraf al-Qudra, a spokesman for the Hamas-run health ministry, told AFP at least one man was in serious condition after being shot in the head, near the border fence in the central Gaza Strip. Qudra said the shooting came after the Palestinians threw stones at Israeli soldiers... Clashes are common on Fridays, with regular protests near the border in support of Gaza farmers who say troops uprooted their trees to create a buffer zone. Tensions have risen in and around Hamas-ruled Gaza after a year of relative calm, with Palestinian fighters firing projectiles at Israel and the Jewish state targeting Hamas facilities and fighters. [Aljazeera, February 21, 2014]
The "independent", European-funded Maan News Agency based in Bethlehem expands on this, saying
Dozens of others suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation as Israeli forces violently dispersed the group, which was protesting against the confiscation of lands near the border by Israeli authorities. [Maan]
AFP's account quotes an officer from the IDF Spokespersons Unit who points out that "hundreds of Palestinians" had been engaged in hurling rocks across the fence at the Israelis who were there to protect the border fence and prevent further acts of sabotage from the Gazan side.
The soldiers opened live fire at "the lower extremities of the main instigators" after attempts to disperse them with riot dispersal means failed, she said. [AFP]
Yaakov Lappin, writing in the Jerusalem Post tonight, says
hundreds of Palestinians approached the border fence that separates northern Gaza from Israel, entering a closed security zone, where they began damaging the fence. IDF soldiers dispatched to the area called on the suspects to leave, fired warning shots, and when that failed, fired at their legs, striking and injuring several Palestinians. "We believe these guys are being sent to the fence by a party that has an interest in letting off some domestic pressure. We are not prepared to let threats reach the fence. Live fire is a tool to stop this," the source said. [Jerusalem Post]
Quoting an unnamed IDF source, the JPost article refers to gradually rising levels of violence by Gaza terror groups:
The source said he believed Hamas is not interested in an escalation with Israel at this time because of its internal Gazan interests, and that it was still restraining smaller terror groups from heating things up. At the same time, "we understand that Hamas is not doing all that it can to stop attacks," the source said. Less established Gazan terror factions are trying to launch terror attacks against Israel continuously, he added. "The situation is stable, but we are seeing a creeping escalation. A few months ago, there were not many rockets. Now we're seeing more of them. We're seeing more friction along the fence then in the past..." [Jerusalem Post]
According to IDF figures, since the start of 2014, 37 Gazan rockets (so far) have been fired into southern Israel.

The GANSO website reports from Gaza that the terrorists who control that area fired yet another rocket in the general direction of the Israeli side of the border on Wednesday (see below).

From the GANSO Incidents Alert site. "Pal. ops" is the term they use for Gaza-based terrorist forces.
"Green Line" is their euphemism for the State of Israel.
As far as we can tell, no one reported this. It may have been yet another of those "Fell Shorts" (Gazan rocket falling onto Gazan territory, houses, people) that hold so little interest for foreign journalists working this beat.

The past few Fridays, down south on the Gaza border, have seen essentially the same fence-rushing scenarios play themselves out, suggesting someone has an interest in whipping up the Palestinian Arab crowds during or after their Friday morning mosque services.

A week ago, on Friday February 14, another crowd of Palestinian Arabs converged on the border fence with rocks, and began pelting the Israelis on the far side. 17 of the Gazan rock-throwers were injured when, again, they failed to stop when called on to do so from the Israeli side, leading to the IDF's soldiers opening fire. And a week before that, on Friday February 7, the same sequence of events produced five injured Arabs.

Past experience suggests the current level of terrorist violence is not likely to remain constant.

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