By Middle East Affairs
The Israel Defense Forces has said it will begin using airstrikes against armed group Hamas if protesters continue to damage fences at the Gaza-Israel border, Haaretz reports.
Palestinians have been protesting since March 30 near the Gaza-Israel border and plan to turn up the heat on Fridays, burning tires and holding up mirrors to hinder the sight of Israeli troops and damage the fence, or even cross the border.
Haaretz said the Israeli government is worried for its already weak fence and has told Israeli troops to prioritize that no one damages it or crosses the border. In two Fridays, 29 Palestinians, including one journalist, have been shot and killed by Israeli soldiers.
None were armed, but Israel maintains that it only aims to take out militants, and that troops also shoot at the legs and feet of protesters as a warning to back off the border.
Hamas, the armed group that controls the Gaza Strip, has maintained that it doesn’t want violence, and neither has Israel taken any further action outside of the events at the protest.
Haaretz said this partly had to do with the fact that Israel didn’t want to disrupt Passover observance, but that’s ended now. According to the news agency, Israeli defense officials have also received intelligence that shows Hamas is prepared for a possible sabotage of the equipment Israel using to build an anti-tunnel barrier, or for the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier if the opportunity arises.