As was to be expected, shortly after the start of the ceasefire, Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza are beginning to push the goal posts, to test just how far they can challenge Israel’s commitment to securing the Gaza Strip borders, both on land on at sea.
From day one following the ceasefire, Gaza Arabs have been taking advantage of the reported loosening of some restrictions regarding how close to the border fence they were allowed to get, and attempted to cut through the fence and infiltrate into Israeli territory. This included one case of an Arab who made it through the fence and attacked 39-year-old Yael Matzpun who was sleeping in her home with her 4-year-old daughter. The world has since hailed the fact that the Israeli woman was able to repel her attacker, and alert security forces that killed him.
It appears that the IDF has since decided to increase its watch over Gaza.
This has obviously upset the other side.
Two Arabs were injured on Saturday by Israeli gunfire near the border fence in eastern Gaza, according to the Ma’an news agency, and Hamas is accusing Israel of violating the Egyptian mediated ceasefire.
An IDF spokeswoman said that “a few Palestinian rioters approached the security fence and in order to distance them soldiers acted in accordance with IDF rules of engagement.”
To remind you, those rules of engagement have been revised after Operation Pillar of Defense, and any firing by Israeli soldiers at Arabs nearing the border fence must be pre-approved by the regional headquarters.
Also on Saturday, the Israeli navy stopped 13 Arab fishermen and detained them off the coast of Gaza, according to Ma’an.
Mahfouth Kabariti, head of the a Gaza-based Palestinian association of fishing and sea sports, asserted that the boats were within the range of six nautical miles that Israel is said to have agreed on in the Egypt-brokered ceasefire last Wednesday.
An Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma’an that three boats had “deviated from the official designated fishing area.”
“Navy forces acted in accordance with the rules of engagement and called on the boats to return to the designated area,” she said. “When they failed to comply, they were taken to Ashdod port and transferred into the custody of the security forces.”
Last week, the Israeli navy detained more than 20 fishermen who were later released.
On Friday evening, 21-year-old Mahmoud Jaroun was hit by a gunshot to the pelvis, and was evacuated to Abu Yousif An-Najjar Hospital in Rafah, before medics announced his death around midnight. According to Ma’an, 11 Arabs altogether sustained wounds by Israeli fire on Friday along the borders between the Gaza Strip and Israel.
The Gaza Strip’s Hamas government described the death of Jaroun, as well as the Israeli navy’s seizure of Arab fishermen, as violations of the ceasefire mediated by Cairo.
“We have discussed this with Egyptian officials, so they guarantee a cessation to those violations,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.
The Islamic Jihad military wing released a statement saying that “ongoing and flagrant violations of the truce (by Israel) will undermine the deal and force factions to respond in a suitable manner.”
Increased Arab access to the Gaza fence and to fishing waters heavily patrolled by Israel were reportedly among conditions set by Hamas for the ceasefire.
About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.
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