Israel to Gazans: Hamas Exploiting You For Its Own Violent Ends

TEL AVIV – Following violent riots on the border between Israel and Gaza, the Defense Ministry’s chief coordinator in the coastal enclave urged Palestinians not to allow the Hamas terror group to use them as pawns in their fight against the Jewish state.

Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), slammed Hamas for sending young people to riot at the border, ending with dozens of Palestinians injured in clashes with Israeli forces. The riots, which Hamas claim to have been spontaneous protests against President Donald Trump’s December declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, are a calculated move by the terror group against Israel – and the presence of grenades on the Israeli side of the border prove this, Mordechai said on Friday.

“Hamas terrorists send young people to riot at the [Gaza border] … while hiding behind them and claiming that these riots are spontaneous and peaceful,” Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), said.

“Pictures of these grenades found inside Israeli land indicate the truth!” he wrote in an Arabic-language post on Facebook, accompanied by images of the grenades. “That is why 11 Palestinians have died and dozens of others have been injured in recent weeks.”

“This is the Hamas approach,” Mordechai said. “To hide behind and send young people to carry out violent riots. … Do not open the way for Hamas to exploit you. You are the only ones who pay!”

Separately, the army confirmed on Sunday that it had carried out an air strike the previous night completely demolishing a terror tunnel built by Hamas. The tunnel, which was three-quarters of a mile long, was the third of its kind built by Hamas in the past two months, the IDF said, and was intended to smuggle terrorists and weapons from Egypt into the Gaza Strip, possibly for a planned attack on the Kerem Shalom crossing.

The crossing is used to transport more than five million tons of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, the spokesperson said. The tunnel, which was completely destroyed in an air strike, also passed below a gas pipe.

“This is a blatant violation of Israeli sovereignty, endangering the citizens of Israel and sabotaging the humanitarian efforts that Israel is making for the citizens of Gaza,” the IDF said in a statement, adding that “the Hamas terror organization repeatedly chooses to harm the welfare of Gaza residents.”

“The terrorist organization Hamas is responsible for everything happening in and out of the Gaza Strip,” an IDF statement continued.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented on the IDF strikes near Gaza on Saturday and said that “we are retaliating against attacks on Israel by very systematically attacking the [terror] infrastructure directed at us.”

Netanyahu added that “Hamas must realize we will not allow a continuation of these attacks and [we] will respond with greater force.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman also commented on the strike: “We performed a professional and precise [military] action. The destruction of the terror tunnel network is an essential component of our systematic policy to harm Hamas’s strategic capabilities. Our message to the Gazan leadership and residents of the Strip is clear: invest in the sanctity of life and not in death tunnels.”

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