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February 20, 2018 2:47 pm

Lieberman: Hamas Using Gaza Demonstrators as ‘Live Ammunition’

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

A Palestinian rioter hurls a rock toward IDF troops on the Israel-Gaza Strip border, Jan. 12, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Mohammed Salem.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman issued a strong statement against the Hamas government in Gaza on Tuesday, saying the terror group uses its citizens as “live ammunition.”

Lieberman’s statement came after more than a week of escalation between Israel and Hamas following the bombing of an Israeli military patrol, the firing of a rocket at southern Israel, and a series of IDF retaliatory strikes.

In addition, organized protests along the border with Israel have been intensifying. It is believed that the explosive device that began the escalation was planted during one of these demonstrations.

“What is blatant and clear,” Lieberman said, “is that Hamas is using its citizens in the Strip as live ammunition. It sends its citizens to clash with IDF soldiers on the border and uses them to commit terrorist activities during the demonstrations.”

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The Hebrew website Walla quoted Lieberman saying that the situation was “unacceptable” and noting that the “leaders of Hamas don’t lack electricity, water, and medications. They don’t send their family members to riot at the border. They send the poorest people into the worst situation and this reflects the character of Hamas.”

This was not the only expression of Hamas’ indifference to the lives of its subjects, Lieberman added. Hamas taxes Gaza residents “and invests this money in tunnels and doesn’t spend a single penny on the health system and improving the water and electricity infrastructure.”

Lieberman also directly blamed Hamas for the attack on the IDF patrol, which was previously believed to be the work of an independent faction. “It is clear that Hamas was part of the explosion incident,” he said, and promised that Israel would retaliate in ways “I prefer not to elaborate [on].”

The defense minister also explicitly connected Hamas to Iran, saying, “Hamas belongs to the axis of evil and is financed by Iran.” He noted that Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar’s lieutenant goes to Beirut every two weeks under the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah’s protection.

Lieberman’s statement on the border protests was not the first by a top Israeli official. On Sunday, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai posted an Arabic-language video online in which he also warned Gazans not to take part in the demonstrations.

“Beginning today, the IDF will adopt stronger measures against those who disturb the peace on the border of the Strip,” Mordechai said.

“It’s advisable for you to stop it now,” he advised, saying demonstrators should protest against Hamas instead.

Like Lieberman, Mordechai directly connected the protests to terrorism, saying, “We know that the violent incidents on the border serve as a cover for terror activities, as occurred last Saturday, and this must not happen.”

Hamas, he continued, was using Gaza’s civilians for its own purposes, putting their lives at risk. “The violent incidents on the border endanger those who take part in them,” Mordechai said. “You must know that the terrorist organization Hamas exploits you for its own interests — the leaders of Hamas simply send you to do their work for them while endangering your lives. You won’t see the children of the Hamas leadership even coming close to the border.”

He concluded by telling Hamas, “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

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