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March 18, 2019 9:47 am

Is Hamas Backing Down?

avatar by Steven Emerson

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Palestinian rioters take cover as others hurl stones at Israeli troops during a demonstration at the Israel-Gaza Strip border fence, east of Gaza City, Feb. 22, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Mohammed Salem.

Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organizations decided to cancel last Friday’s weekly violent protests on the Israel-Gaza border in order to avoid an escalation with Israel, The Jerusalem Post reports.

Palestinian terrorist factions leading the National Committee for the March of Return made the decision to delay Friday’s demonstrations out of “concern for our people,” and to plan for larger protests commemorating Land Day at the end of the month.

The decision came shortly after Palestinian terrorists fired two missiles at Tel Aviv on Thursday evening. In response, Israel’s armed forces struck 100 Hamas targets in Gaza, including an underground missile factory, a military training site, and a naval commando base. Terrorists fired at least nine rockets on Friday into Israeli towns bordering Gaza as a response.

Hamas denied responsibility for the initial rocket launches. While the IDF assesses that low-level militants may have accidentally launched the rockets, Israel holds Hamas responsible for all terrorist activity emanating from Gaza. A Hamas official told The Times of Israel that the terrorist organization “has no interest in an escalation” with Israel.

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This decision marks the first time that Hamas has canceled the weekly protests since violent riots started on March 30, 2018. It confirms that Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups are the main drivers behind the violent riots, even though some international media outlets continue to frame the events as popular and peaceful protests.

The decision to cancel the protests shows that Hamas is not prepared for an all-out confrontation with Israel, but is fully in control of the violent border situation.

Last month, Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organizations threatened to ramp up violent protests on the Israel-Gaza border to force more Israeli concessions. Hamas officials also threatened to attack Israelis in direct operations on the border, including infiltrations into Israel.

Palestinian terrorist groups have relied on these methods to attack Israelis and cause significant economic damage. Sporadic incendiary kites and balloons continue to land in Israeli territory. During the past year, these devices have sparked destructive fires that burned thousands of acres of crops and natural forest area.

The border violence and most recent threats are meant to coerce Israel into adhering to Hamas’ demands, including open border crossings and financial transfers. The vast majority of Palestinians killed in response to weekly violent protests on the Israel-Gaza border are affiliated with Hamas and other terrorist groups.

It remains to be seen whether Hamas will cancel or hold back future riots and protests.

Steven Emerson is considered one of the leading authorities on Islamic extremist networks, financing, and operations. He is 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.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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