A demonstrator holding a Palestinian flag uses a sling to hurl stones at Israeli troops during a protest calling for lifting the Israeli blockade on Gaza, at the beachfront border with Israel, in the northern Gaza Strip November 5, 2018.
(photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS)
A Palestinian who succeeded to infiltrate into Israel from northern Gaza is suspected of setting alight a greenhouse in the southern community of Netiv Ha’asara in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council on Friday afternoon.
According to a statement released by the military, the suspect had been identified before crossing into Israel, and troops were dispatched to the area following his infiltration.
The IDF at first said that fire was suspected of having broken out in the greenhouse as a result of a flash bomb that troops had fired while searching for the suspect. But following a preliminary investigation into the incident, the military concluded that the infiltrator was the one who set the fire.
Firefighting teams were called to the scene to extinguish the flames. There were no casualties.
The unarmed suspect was arrested by IDF troops about a kilometer from the community and transferred to Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) for further questioning, the military said.
“The incident is under investigation and the necessary lessons will be implemented,” read the statement released by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, adding that “IDF troops will continue to act to protect the communities in the area.”
Udi Dreilich, the owner of the greenhouse that was burned down, was quoted by Israel’s Walla! News as saying that the damage was estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands of shekels and that he was worried how the Gazan managed to infiltrate into Israel and get close to residential homes.
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“All my equipment was in the green house, the seeds for the crops are gone, and all the nets and nylon are burnt. I looked [at the damage] and it hurt my heart; it’s years of work,” he was quoted as saying. “The feeling that he managed to break through the fence and reach us is not good – it raises concerns. Our problem is that if someone managed to break through the fence, he could come to the community and carry out an attack. An hour earlier my workers were there and it could have end differently.”
According to KAN public broadcaster, the man had infiltrated into Israel many times before.
With news of the infiltration, residents of Netiv Ha’asara expressed concerns about the incident. In the morning, Northern Brigade commander of the Southern Command Col. Avi Rosenfeld met with residents to express the IDF’s commitment to securing the area.
“We are here, and we will learn what is needed from the incident,” he said.
With the announcement of the Palestinian infiltration into the moshav, they expressed concern about the deterioration of events. “The feelings are very difficult,” said Revital Fuld, who lives in the moshav. “We are very afraid – especially because it’s already been done regularly, our weekends are tough, the kids do not stop asking questions and we have to find answers we do not have.”
Earlier on Friday, a Palestinian was killed by an Israeli soldier after the IDF said that the man threw an explosive charge at IDF forces guarding the border fence and into Israel. The Gaza Health Ministry said that 28-year-old Rami Qamhan was critically wounded after being shot in the neck east of Khan Yunis during protests along the Gaza security fence.
Two others were arrested for cutting the fence and entering Israel.
Another 37 Gazans were injured by IDF fire during the protests, which saw the participation of some 12,000 Palestinians.
The violent riots along the Gaza security fence, which began in March, have led to 221 Palestinians being killed, according to Palestinian Health Ministry figures. It has also led to fears of another military operation against Hamas to restore the quiet seen in the four years since the end of Operation Protective Edge.
During the protests on Friday afternoon, Qatar representative to Gaza Mohammed Al-Emadi’s convoy was pelted with stones
by a group of Palestinians while he was visiting one of the “March of Return” campaign protest sites on the Gaza border. No one was hurt in the incident.
The incident came after $15 million in cash was transferred to Hamas to pay the salaries of civil servants. The money, given by Qatar, was transferred in three suitcases in a heavily guarded vehicle in the blockaded coastal enclave on Thursday.
Emadi said that Doha would continue transferring $15 million a month for salaries and stipends for needy families over the next six months, and another $10 million would be allocated toward electricity.
During Friday’s protests, Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar denied reports that the group had reached any agreements with Israel, and said that anyone who says that “there is a deal or understandings with the occupation is not telling the truth.”
Nevertheless, he said that Hamas is working with Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations “in order to lift the blockade on Gaza.”
According to a report on Saturday in the Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar, Qatar and Israel have also agreed to a sea passage between Cyprus and the Gaza Strip, which would be monitored by international forces under Israeli security supervision.
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