A Hamas official on Wednesday said that 50 of the 62 Palestinians reported killed during Gaza border riots on Monday and Tuesday were from its own ranks.
While the official termed the deaths “martyrdom,” Israel seized on the disclosure as evidence that the Gaza terrorist organization has been driving the violent disorders on the border.
“This proves what so many have tried to ignore: Hamas is behind these riots, and the branding of the riots as ‘peaceful protests’ could not be further from the truth,” said IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus.
In addition, Palestinian Islamic Jihad had said on Tuesday that three members of its Saraya al-Quds military wing were killed by Israeli forces in Khan Younis.
The number of dead and injured have been provided by the Gaza-run health ministry, and Israel has not yet published its own figures.
One report in particular was questioned. A Gazan doctor told the Associated Press that an 8-month-old baby, whom the Gaza ministry said died after inhaling Israeli tear gas on Monday, had a pre-existing medical condition and he did not believe her death was caused by tear gas.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman denounced Hamas as a “group of cannibals” that uses their women and children in deadly clashes.
“The Hamas leadership is a group of cannibals that treats their children as weapons. They have rockets, sidearms and a different kind of weapon–women and children,” he during a visit to the Gaza Division.
“Their goal is to lift Gaza’s blockade but not to build their economy or hold talks about co-existence, but rather to smuggle weapons (into Gaza) to continue to build up their military force and create a pseudo Hezbollah model.”
Liberman also rejected calls in the international community for an investigation of the high number of casualties in the Gaza disorders.
“I suggest to everyone just to think about what would have happened the they had succeeded in breaking into one of the settlements. We saw what happened at Kerem Shalom, on the Palestinian side. They reached Kerem Shalom, and destroyed the gas pipeline,” Liberman said.