Violent protests in Gaza escalated as a ceasefire deal with Israel appears to be increasingly unlikely to materialize.
By: AP and World Israel News Staff
Palestinians staged violent protests on Wednesday at a new location along the perimeter fence between Israel and Gaza, as Hamas intensified rioting on the border after Egyptian-led cease-fire talks stalled.
The Hamas terror group was hoping its indirect talks with Israel would result in the lifting of a blockade that Israel and Egypt placed on Gaza when Hamas seized control of the territory from the Palestinian Authority (PA) in a violent 2007 coup.
Hamas accused the the PA of thwarting the negotiations.
Hamas initiated the riots in late March, with the terror group using the gatherings’ civilian participants as human shields for armed operatives who attempt to infiltrate Israel and mount attacks on IDF troops guarding the border.
For months, the Hamas-orchestrated rioting on the border was limited to Fridays, but Wednesday’s protest is the third this week, with new grounds including Gaza’s northwestern tip at the Mediterranean where land and sea boundaries converge.
On Tuesday, Palestinian protested outside Erez, the only crossing point for people into Israel.
This “march will not stop until the ordeal is over. This is our resolution,” Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said during the funeral of a Palestinian killed a day earlier at a riot.
“Creating new ways and tactics and diversifying the marches is meant to achieve the coveted goal of … the lifting of the siege,” Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said.
Hamas was close to reaching a deal and the mediation efforts reached their peak in August, but intervention by PA President Mahmoud Abbas resulted in “confusing and slowing” the discussions, Qassem said.
Hamas expects the persistence of the protests will become “annoying to Israel and invite a renewal of mediation diplomacy,” he said.
At the protests, Palestinians hurl rocks and firebombs at Israeli forces, in addition to launching incendiary kites and balloons across the fence to set fires to Israeli property. Since March, Palestinian arson terror has caused millions of dollars in damage and scorched thousands of acres of farmland and nature preserves.