Zionist minister for military affairs says there are “no innocent people” in the Gaza Strip, which has witnessed deadly violence perpetrated by regime forces against peaceful Palestinian protesters.
“There are no innocent people in the Gaza Strip,” Avigdor Lieberman told Israel’s public radio on Sunday, claiming that all the Gazans are affiliated with the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas.
“Everyone’s connected to Hamas, everyone gets a salary from Hamas, and all the activists trying to challenge us and breach the [Gaza] border are Hamas military wing activists,” he added.
Israel has faced international criticism over its use of live fire after 10 days of protests and clashes along the fence in which its forces have killed 30 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s health ministry.
On Thursday, Lieberman threatened to respond to the protests in the “harshest” manner if the demonstrators approach the fence separating Israelis and Palestinians.
“If there are provocations, there will be a reaction of the harshest kind like last week,” Lieberman told public radio ahead of fresh anti-occupation protests this weekend.
Israel to target Hamas if Gaza rallies continue
Israel has threatened to strike Hamas which runs the Gaza Strip, if “March of Return” rallies near the fence separating the blockaded enclave and the occupied territories continue.
The Israeli daily Haaretz quoted Israeli army sources as saying on Saturday that they would react forcefully if the alleged attempts to damage the fence continued.
Israeli snipers have also been instructed to shoot Palestinians approaching the Gaza fence, according to the report.
Palestinians have marched to the fence as part of a six-week protest, dubbed “The Great March of Return,” demanding the right to return for those driven out of their homeland.
The peaceful demonstrations turned violent after Israeli forces used tear gas and live fire against the protesters.
Gaza was the scene of deadly clashes on Friday, prompting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to call on the UN, the Arab League and the EU to take immediate action against the Israeli violence.
The Jerusalem Post reported that Saudi and Egyptian officials had opened contacts with Hamas leaders to call for an end to the weekly protests in Gaza.
An Egyptian Foreign Ministry official was quoted as saying that Cairo would ensure the regular opening of the Rafah border crossing in exchange for a halt to the Gaza demonstrations.
“The situation in the Gaza Strip is nearing an explosion towards anyone blockading it,” the source said, “and therefore there is a fear that Palestinian anger will turn towards Egypt in the coming weeks.”
The Return rallies culminate on May 15, the day Palestinians commemorate Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe) when hundreds of thousands fled or were driven out of their homes in 1948 and Israel was created.
Haaretz said the Israeli army is using live fire because it fears a massive breach of the aging Gaza fence.
The report further referred to concerns by the Israeli army sources that in case of many Palestinian casualties, the international community might renew diplomatic pressure on the regime.
Palestinian officials and activists have slammed the ongoing Israeli campaign of brutality against protesters.
On Saturday, the European Union questioned Israel’s “use of force” against the Gazans, calling for “restraint” in the besieged enclave.
In a statement, Maja Kocijancic, the EU spokeswoman for foreign affairs and security policy, referred to the killing of nine Palestinians, including a minor and a journalist, in Gaza on Friday and the injuring of hundreds more by Israeli forces.
The carnage “raises serious questions about the proportionate use of force which must be addressed,” read the statement.
“The EU is deeply saddened by the further loss of life. We wish a speedy recovery to all those injured. All concerned need to enable the quick delivery of medical equipment to those who need it, and allow medical deferrals to hospitals outside Gaza for humanitarian reasons,” it added.
On March 31, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini urged “an independent and transparent investigation” into the use of live ammunition by the Israeli military against the Gazans.