Islamic Jihad releases threatening video ahead of Gaza protests

By Middle East Affairs

Islamic Jihad released a video Thursday threatening Israeli soldiers before the weekly demonstration along the Israel-Gaza border, Haaretz reported.

The video shows the point-of-view through a rifle aimed at Israeli military figures, such as Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories. The video ends with the message: “You’re killing our people in cold blood and think that you’re protected, but our snipers’ sights are on your top commanders.”

Israeli soldiers have killed 34 Palestinians and injured hundreds more since the weekly demonstrations began March 30. The Friday protests are part of the “Great March of Return” that will last for six weeks and finish May 15, the day the United States opens its embassy in Jerusalem.

The military wing of Hamas released a similar message to the Islamic Jihad on April 7 with photos of Israeli troops at the Gaza-Israel border in an apparent attempt to prove their lethal capability yet intention to remain peaceful.

Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades published pictures of Israeli occupation soldiers who sniped a number of protesters Friday during the “Great March of Return” and who, judging from surveillance footage, deliberately killed them.

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Israeli anti-occupation and human rights group B’Tselem called April 5 for troops to refuse orders to shoot unarmed Palestinian protesters.

“The military prepared for these demonstrations, yet instead of attempting to minimize the number of casualties, officials made it clear in advance that soldiers would fire live ammunition on protesters who are hundreds of meters away from the fence,” the statement said.

B’Tselem called those orders unlawful.

“Compliance with unlawful orders is a criminal offense,” the organization said. “Therefore, if soldiers on the ground receive orders to fire live ammunition at unarmed civilians, they are duty-bound to refuse to obey them.”

Israel is facing global criticism for its strategy against the protesters.

At J Street’s annual conference Sunday, Senator Bernie Sanders said Israel “massively overreacted” to the protests. “The presence of Hamas members among a crowd of tens of thousands does not justify the level of violence we saw,” Sanders said.

The Israel-Gaza border has two fences – one on the exact border line and one further into the Gaza Strip to warn residents not to get too close. The Israeli military has been told to prioritize that no one crosses the border and were given permission to shoot at anyone who walks into the zone between the two fences. They were commanded to shoot only at the lower body, unless the person appears to be a threat.

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