Israeli authorities were taking non-military measures on Wednesday to counter the Hamas-sponsored demonstrations at the Gaza border.
In an effort to prevent masses of demonstrators from reaching the border area, the IDF told owners of of transportation companies not to participate, lest they face punitive action. Hundreds of buses were reportedly being organized to take Palestinians to the border starting on Friday.
Major-General Yoav Mordechai, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, (COGAT) confirmed that such messages had gone out to the bus companies.
In an interview with the U.S.-based Arabic-language satellite channel Alhurra, Mordechai said, “We have contacted the owners of more than 20 bus companies in the Gaza Strip who received money from Hamas to drive the Palestinians to the violent demonstrations. We warned that measures would be taken against the owners and their companies.”
Mordechai said that Hamas had paid off the owners to “persuade” Palestinians reluctant to participate to go. He warned that the IDF would take “severe and harsh measures” against those who try to damage the security fence or infiltrate into Israel.
Asked if Israel was also considering measures against senior Hamas officials, Mordechai said, “We intend to do our utmost to prevent violent and terroristic demonstrations. These are demonstrations of anarchy, and not Land Day demonstrations.”
In a related incident, Hamas claimed that it arrested a Palestinian in Gaza recruited by Israel to thwart the protests, a Palestinian source said on Wednesday. He identified the accused man as a 37-year-old taxi driver, but did not give his name.