Thursday, March 29, 2018

29-Mar-18: Unwanted visitors on Israel's Gaza border

Tuesday's Gazan intruders minus their grenades and knives [Image Source]
As Israel approaches one of the traditionally relaxed annual periods in a locale that's not so notably relaxed, security events in the south are causing rising concern.

Times of Israel reports this morning that two Gazan Palestinian Arabs were intercepted yesterday (Wednesday) immediately after getting through the border fence and despite the heightened security alert that is currently in effect there. They were equipped with a knife and box cutters, and are now "being questioned" as the standard media release formula states it.

The thing is, this was the fourth breach of the security fence around Gaza in a week. What's going on?

Tomorrow, Friday, the eve of Passover and the day practically every Israeli has some Passover-related task to take care of at home or in the workplace ahead of Friday night's family-oriented seder gatherings, the Hamas regime plans - it has been saying for some weeks - to conduct "protests" along the boundary with Israel.

They say this is going to include "masses" of Gazans taking part. Their media advisers have coined the name of this dangerous exercise “March of Return” and it is planned to go on for six weeks until May 15, the day the Palestinian Arabs have come to call Nakba, catastrophe. This "march" will include the constructing of a tent city on the Gazan side of the border and the participation of "tens of thousands of Gaza residents", which there's little doubt Hamas - which rules the Gazans with an iron fist, can arrange.

But have no fear. They're giving assurances that this is going to be a “peaceful protest”:
A member of the Hamas Political Bureau stressed on Tuesday that the proposed “Great March of Return” is intended to be a peaceful activity. Dr Khalil Al-Hayya also warned the Israeli occupation authorities against taking any aggressive steps against the march or those who take part. According to Al-Hayya, this will include Palestinian men, women and children. The return to occupied Palestinian lands is the legitimate and inalienable right of every individual Palestinian refugee, the spokesman pointed out... “Our right to Palestinian land is inalienable and we will not concede it. We are insistent upon our right to return and our right to establish our independent state.” [Middle East Monitor, March 27, 2018]
The background is dire: Gaza's unemployment rate is extremely high with economic activity in a dramatically low state. Long-standing problems with their water, sewerage and electricity are not improving despite multinational efforts and offers of huge sums of capital from Hamas' oil-rich friends; they are in fact worsening. In short, life under Hamas, is a nightmare. Which is evidently just what Hamas intends.

Meanwhile here's what the past few days saw:
  • Wednesday, a sole unarmed man crossed from the northern Gaza Strip into Israel near the community of Zikim and was promptly taken into custody. A few hours before that, two Palestinian Arabs were spotted near the discontinued Karni crossing trying to set fire to army engineering equipment close to the security fence [Jerusalem Post].
  • Tuesday, three Gazans, all armed with grenades and knives, not only got into Israel but managed to walk more than 20 kilometers (12 miles) unhindered during several hours before being arrested just outside the IDF's Tze'elim army base. Making this so much worse, as Times of Israel reports it, signs of the infiltration were detected only hours after it had happened. And though no injuries or damage resulted, the defense minister Avigdor Liberman called for the incident to get the full investigation treatment. The infiltrators were located and arrested about 90 minutes after those first signs of intrusion were detected [Ynet].
  • Saturday, four Palestinian Arab men wearing masks and carrying bottles filled with flammable material [Haaretz] managed to cut their way through the security fence from southern Gaza and ran into Israel near Kibbutz Kissufim (population about 245) where, as a well-publicized Hamas video shows, they tried (like Wednesday's attempted assault) to set fire to heavy engineering equipment that was there because of the barrier construction work now underway (no Israelis were on the scene at that hour. The construction is to prevent tunneling by the Gazan terrorists into Israel but it appears they can get in anyway using standard equipment i.e. cutters and their legs.
As Times of Israel reports, the military are taking pains to assure Israelis that all is essentially under control:
Israel has prepared for the protests by bolstering troop deployments in the border area, including the deployment of more than a hundred snipers to deal anticipated mass attempts to go through the fence, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot said. “If the Palestinians think they will organize a march and it will pass the [border] fence and they will march into our territory, they’re wrong,” Eisenkot told the Israel Hayom daily... “A big portion of the army will be invested there,” Eisenkot told the Yedioth Ahronoth daily... “If there will be a danger to lives, we will authorize live fire,” he declared. “The orders are to use a lot of force.”
But not every use of force involves fire-power. As Khaled Abu Toameh, writing for Times of Israel last night reports:
Israel has warned owners of bus companies in the Gaza Strip not to ferry Palestinians to mass demonstrations that Hamas and other Palestinian groups are planning near the border with Israel on Friday. Hamas said on Wednesday that several owners of bus companies had received the phone calls in the past few days warning them not to assist in the organization of the protests. The terror group added that Israeli security officers had threatened to take punitive measures against the owners and their companies, including banning them from operating at border crossings with Israel...
What's certain in the wake of all this Hamas grandstanding and provocation is that at tens of thousands of Israeli homes on Friday night, the traditional retelling of the exodus narrative and the pleasures of the once-a-year seder meal will be conducted with empty chairs at the table as ordinary Israelis pay the price of constant vigilance.

1 comment:

WaterBear said...

This is the time to start using drone surveillance of the fence.