Hamas official: 50 of those killed were our members
Fifty of the Palestinians killed along the Gaza border on Monday were Hamas members, Hamas Politburo member Salah Bardaweil said on Wednesday.
At least 61 Palestinians were killed on Monday, according to Ashraf al-Qidra, a spokesman for the Hamas-run Health Ministry. “The number I am telling you is official. Fifty martyrs from Hamas were martyred in this most recent battle,” he told Baladna, a Gaza-based TV station.
Bardaweil did not specify what role the people who he said were Hamas members had in the organization or whether any of them belonged to its armed wing, the Izzadin Kassam Brigades.
On Tuesday, the IDF said it and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) had identified 24 of the Palestinians killed on Monday
as terrorists, mostly belonging to Hamas but also some who were members of Islamic Jihad.
Meanwhile, later on Wednesday, Hamas chief in Gaza Yahya Sinwar said Egyptian officials told a Hamas delegation that visited the Egyptian capital early this week that Cairo does not want the protests on the border to turn into war between Palestinians and Israel.
“The Egyptian brothers affirmed the importance of this movement remaining peaceful and not turning into armed military confrontation,” Sinwar told Al Jazeera.
He added that Hamas agrees with what he said was Egypt’s position on the protests, but the Islamist movement could resort to an armed confrontation with Israel if “circumstances” were to make that necessary.
Sinwar told Palestinian youth in Gaza last week that this past Monday and Tuesday would be “crucial days” in Palestinian history.
While thousands came to the border on Monday, a relatively small number showed up there on Tuesday.
Intelligence Minister Israel Katz told Israel Radio that Hamas decided to curb the protests after Egypt warned the Islamist movement of a possible harsh Israeli response if they were to continue.
Sinwar said the protests will continue and that Egypt said Palestinians have the right to continue to participate in them.
Thousands of Gazans participated in the protests on Monday, as they have since March 30, especially on Fridays, to demand the return of Palestinians to their ancestral homes in Israel and to pressure the Jewish state to lift its restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of the coastal enclave.
The IDF described the protests on Monday as “a violent riot,” asserting that participants tried to enter Israel, threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at security personnel and placed a bomb near the border fence.
International and local rights groups accused Israel of using “excessive force” against “unarmed protesters.”