Hamas is a “bunch of cannibals” who use their women and children as weapons, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said on Wednesday, after riots along the Gaza border fence left dozens of Palestinians dead.
Hamas claims that 62 Gazans died on Monday.
“The Hamas leadership is a bunch 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 IDF’s Gaza Division.
“Their goal is to lift Gaza’s blockade but not to build their economy or hold talks about coexistence, but rather to smuggle weapons [into the Strip] to continue to build up their military force and to create a Hezbollah model plus.”
The violence on Monday was condemned by the international community, with Turkey and South Africa recalling their ambassadors and the United States blocking a UN Security Council statement calling for an independent probe.
On Tuesday the IDF issued a statement saying that after a joint investigation with the Shin Bet, at least 24 of the fatalities were members of Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad and on Wednesday afternoon senior Hamas official Salah al-Bardawil admitted
to Palestinian radio that "in the last round of confrontations 62 people were martyred, 50 of them were Hamas."
I suggest to everyone just to think about what would have happened if 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 [bringing fuel into Gaza],” Liberman said.
Col. (ret.) Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, told The Jerusalem Post that Hamas is responsible for every Palestinian death during the riots.
“Hamas has orchestrated the violence and orchestrated with the deliberate intent of trying to force the IDF to use lethal force against their people so that their own people get killed,” Kemp said Tuesday, speaking on the border with the Gaza Strip.
Sending women and children to the border fence is “disgusting,” Kemp said, adding that “very few people would understand why this is happening and would understand why responsible adults would get their children to get into combat zones, or their women or noncombatant men. It is deliberately putting people in danger and it is shameful and disgraceful, and it is their responsibility when it goes very badly wrong like it did.”
While Monday was the bloodiest day in Gaza since Operation Protective Edge in 2014, Tuesday saw a marked decrease in violence, with only 4,000 Palestinians taking part in the demonstrations rather than the 40,000 who participated the day earlier.
According to Kemp, the violence and the number of fatalities likely served as a deterrent to Palestinians to participate in the protests on Tuesday.
But Liberman warned that despite the current relative calm along the border, “there are no illusions here, they did not give up all the disturbances and terrorism.
“But they got a serious blow and that’s what caused them, for the moment, to go back into their kennel,” he said.