Is­rael threat­ens to ex­pand re­sponse


Is­rael will tar­get “ter­ror or­ga­ni­za­tions” in Gaza if vi­o­lence along the ter­ri­tory’s bor­der with Is­rael drags on, the chief mil­i­tary spokesman warned Saturday, a day af­ter thou­sands of Pales­tini­ans staged protests near the bor­der fence.

Brig. Gen. Ro­nen Manelis, the chief army spokesman, de­nied al­le­ga­tions of ex­ces­sive use of force, say­ing those killed by Is­raeli troops were men be­tween the ages of 18 and 30 who were in­volved in vi­o­lence and be­longed to mil­i­tant fac­tions.

He al­leged Gaza health of­fi­cials ex­ag­ger­ated the num­ber of those wounded, and that sev­eral dozen at most were in­jured by live fire while the rest were merely shaken up by tear gas and other riot dispersal means.

Gaza City’s Shifa Hos­pi­tal re­ceived 284 in­jured peo­ple Fri­day, the ma­jor­ity with bul­let in­juries, said spokesman Ay­man Sah­bani. He said 70 were un­der the age of 18 and 11 were women.

He said 40 surg­eries were per­formed Fri­day and that 50 were planned Saturday. “Th­ese are all from live bul­lets that broke limbs or caused deep, open wounds with dam­age to nerves and veins,” he said.

Among those re­cov­er­ing from surgery was 16-year-old Mar­wan Yassin who had thrown stones with a sling­shot at the fence Fri­day and was shot in both legs. One of his legs was wrapped in bandages and the other had a cast and metal fix­tures.

His mother said at his bed­side that she would ban him from fu­ture protests.

On Saturday, a few hun­dred peo­ple gath­ered at five tent en­camp­ments that have been set up sev­eral hun­dred me­ters from the bor­der fence. The tents serve as the launch points for marches.

Manelis re­it­er­ated Saturday that Is­rael “will not al­low a mas­sive breach of the fence into Is­raeli ter­ri­tory.”

He said that Ha­mas and other Gaza mil­i­tant groups are us­ing protests as a cover for stag­ing at­tacks. If vi­o­lence con­tin­ues, “we will not be able to con­tinue lim­it­ing our ac­tiv­ity to the fence area and will act against th­ese ter­ror or­ga­ni­za­tions in other places too,” he said.

The bor­der protests were seen as a new at­tempt by Ha­mas to break the bor­der block­ade, im­posed by Is­rael and Egypt af­ter the group seized Gaza from forces loyal Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas, in 2007.

A rel­a­tive of Ham­dan Abu Amsha, who was killed a day ear­lier by Is­raeli forces, cries dur­ing his fu­neral in Beit Ha­nun, Gaza Strip, on Saturday. (AFP)

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