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January 23, 2019 7:34 am

Firm Proof That Most Palestinians Killed in Gaza Protests Had Terrorist Ties

avatar by Steven Emerson

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A Palestinian rioter on the Israel-Gaza Strip border, Oct. 26, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Mohammed Salem.

The vast majority of Palestinians killed in response to weekly violent protests on the Israel-Gaza border were affiliated with Hamas and other terrorist groups, reports the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.

Since the end of March, when the “return marches” started, 187 Palestinians were killed — including 150 (80 percent) members or affiliates of terrorist organizations. About half of those killed were either associated with Hamas or full-blown members. Hamas military wing operatives represented almost a quarter of the total fatalities.

These findings are largely consistent with prior Meir Amit assessments and statements from top Hamas leaders.

In May, Hamas senior official Salah Bardawil claimed that Hamas members represented half of the total deaths, and boasted that of 62 people killed on May 14, 50 were Hamas members. Hamas political chief Yayha Sinwar claimed more than 60 Hamas deaths on that day.

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Over the last year, Hamas orchestrated several attacks at the border and encouraged Palestinians to infiltrate into Israel. Other rioters threw pipe bombs at the fence and deployed Molotov kites, sparking fires in Israeli fields near the border. Some terrorists engaged in shooting attacks and planted improvised explosive devices.

Any attempts to portray the riots as “peaceful protests” defy the evidence and Hamas’ own leadership.

Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahhar acknowledged that the Gaza demonstrations were “not peaceful resistance,” and Hamas’ efforts at the border were “bolstered by a military force and by security agencies.”

“This is a clear terminological deception [i.e. ‘peaceful resistance’]. When you are in possession of weapons that were able to withstand the occupation in the wars of 2006, 2008, 2012, and 2014. … This is not peaceful resistance … so when we talk about ‘peaceful resistance,’ we are deceiving the public,” Al-Zahhar said in a May 13 interview.

The updated statistics reaffirm that violent demonstrations on Israel’s southern border are not the product of a spontaneous and popular uprising by Palestinian civilians. These protests are primarily planned and executed by Hamas, with assistance from other terror groups including Fatah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

For example, six members of Fatah’s military wing and 33 Fatah affiliates have been killed since the protests began.

The data is largely collected from information released by Gaza’s Health Ministry. The list of fatalities is then corroborated by several websites and social networks, primarily based in the Gaza Strip.

Click here to read the full Meir Amit report.

Steven Emerson is considered one of the leading authorities on Islamic extremist networks, financing, and operations. He serves as the Executive Director of The Investigative Project on Terrorism, a non-profit organization that serves one of the world’s largest storehouses of archival data and intelligence on Islamic and Middle Eastern terrorist groups.

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