Hamas Gears Up For Mass Border-Breaching Protest as US Embassy in Jerusalem to Open

By Patrick Goodenough | May 13, 2018 | 8:59pm EDT
A welcome banner and flags of Israel, the city of Jerusalem, and the United States decorate a bridge in the city which President Trump has recognized as Israel’s capital. (Screen capture: YouTube)

(CNSNews.com) – Israel is bracing Monday for a culmination of weeks of Hamas-instigated protests along the border with the Gaza Strip, as the terrorist group that rules Gaza declared in a propaganda video that masses will breach the border and that “we will not die alone.”

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) warned that Hamas was planning to “massacre” Israelis in communities near the border.

“On Monday May 14th the Hamas terrorist organization plans to send armed terrorists among 250,000 violent rioters to swarm and breach Israel’s border with Gaza and enter Israeli communities,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a video posted online Sunday.

“Hamas plans to carry out a massacre in Israel. The Israel Defense Forces will not let them.”

The IDF said it was deploying extra combat units along the border, as well as intelligence units and snipers.

The ostensibly peaceful “great march of return” protests have seen tens of thousands of Palestinians rally near the border over the last seven Fridays, throwing rocks and petrol bombs at IDF troops and trying to pull down sections of the security fence. Dozens of Palestinians have been killed in the clashes.

The protest campaign was designed to reach a climax on “Naqba Day” on Tuesday – the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the state of Israel, which Palestinians mark as the “naqba” or “catastrophe.”

Monday’s historic opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem has sharpened the focus, however, and the IDF expects violent protests on Monday as well as Tuesday.

Israel’s Yediot Ahronot reported that a Hamas video directed at Israeli residents of towns near the border is warning them, in Hebrew, to “leave without hesitation.”

“Those who stay will bear the full consequences,” the video reportedly says. “You've been warned. We'll break through the border and reach all the way to your communities, and we will not die alone.”

In a statement earlier, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Palestinians will turn May 14 and 15 into a “catastrophe” for the “Zionist project.”

“The Palestinian people on May 14 will stand together as one to send U.S. President Donald Trump a message that Jerusalem is an Islamic and Arab city and his decision of moving his country's embassy will not defame its original character,” Haniyeh said in the statement, posted on Hamas’ website.

A Hamas delegation visited Cairo on Sunday in what was seen by an attempt by Egypt to prevent any escalation of violence on Monday and Tuesday.

In a statement after the visit, however, senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said late Sunday the Palestinians “are determined to move forward in the Great March of Return and break the siege on Gaza and we confirmed the protests peaceful character to our brothers in Egypt.”

“We will see you tomorrow at the Great March of Return to achieve our goals and break the siege on Gaza,” al-Hayya added.

In a teleconference briefing Friday, senior director for strategic assessment at the National Security Council, Victoria Coates, said that Americans support the right to hold peaceful protests.

“But the operative word there is peaceful, and particularly as you look at what’s going on down in Gaza, there are a lot of people who are legitimately protesting the very, very difficult humanitarian situation that they are enduring,” she said.

“But at the same time, you have some people flying kites as symbols of freedom, you have some people flying kites with swastikas, and gas bombs attached to them, and that’s intolerable. So I think we need to blame that violence not on anything the United States has done or Israel has done, but firmly on Hamas.”

‘Bizarre act’

Meanwhile the Palestinian Authority, the self-rule authority based in Ramallah, stepped up its condemnation of Monday’s scheduled dedication ceremony of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.

P.A. spokesman Yousef al-Mahmoud on Sunday called President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the embassy move as “the most bizarre act undertaken by world leaders throughout history.”

He said all governments should “counter” the U.S. move by recognizing East Jerusalem as “the capital of the state of Palestine.”

PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi urged the U.S. to reverse the policy on Jerusalem.

She also said foreign governments should not take part in Monday’s embassy opening ceremony, but instead “defend the global rule of law and justice by holding Israel to account with punitive measures and sanctions.”

Monday’s event takes place at an existing U.S. Consulate complex in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood, part of which will serve as the embassy pending future expansion and construction work.

On the question of attendance and possible stayaways by foreign ambassadors, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told reporters Friday some 800 guests were expected, but that as it’s a bilateral event “we have not invited any of the diplomatic corps.”

The U.S. presidential delegation joining Friedman comprises Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, assistant to the president Jared Kushner, advisor to the president Ivanka Trump, and special representative for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt.

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