'There are no innocents in Gaza,' says Israeli defense minister

The march is not led by people who want peace and there are no calls for peace at this event, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said.

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April 8, 2018 19:23
3 minute read.

IDF summary of Gaza protests on Friday, April 6 (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

IDF summary of Gaza protests on Friday, April 6 (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

 
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Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman came under attack on Sunday for his comments in a number of radio interviews, including one in which he stated: “There are no innocents in Gaza.”

The PLO Negotiations Affairs Department immediately went after Liberman on Twitter and created a Meme with the quote from the Kan Radio interview.

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“The Israeli official discourse continues to incite hatred, racism and discrimination against the people of #Palestine,” the PLO tweeted.

In the interview, Liberman said: “You have to understand, there are no innocent people in the Gaza Strip. Everyone has a connection to Hamas.

Everyone receives a salary from Hamas.”

“Those who are trying to challenge us at the border and breach it belong to Hamas’s military wing,” he said.

On Friday, Israeli soldiers repelled an assault on its border fence with Gaza, killing nine Palestinians who had participated in the massive “Great March of Return” protest along the barrier’s route.



Participants in the six-week event that began on March 30 hope to enter Israel by breaking down the fence.

On Sunday, the IDF reported that “three suspects infiltrated Israeli territory through the security fence near northern Gaza and then returned to Gaza.”

The Hamas-linked Palestinian Information Center’s Twitter feed said the shots were fired at peaceful protesters in the border region near Khan Younis.

The IDF said: “We are not aware of reports regarding fire towards IDF troops or communities. The incident is being reviewed.”

But WAFA, the Palestine News & Information Agency, said two Palestinians were shot and injured in the foot with live ammunition during clashes with IDF soldiers near the fence in the area of Khan Yunis.

The Palestinian Information Center said Israel fired nine artillery shells into lands owned by citizens in Hajar al-Deek in the central Gaza Strip.

Liberman insisted on Sunday that Great March participants were not protesters, but Hamas activists who were on its payroll.

Hamas is threatening people who do not participate in the protest, including the bus drivers who are taking people there, Liberman told Army Radio.

His description included photojournalist Yasser Murtaja, 30, who, according to media reports, was killed by the IDF near the Gaza border on Friday while he was taking pictures and wearing a flak vest that clearly said he was a member of the press.

“Dozens of times in the past Hamas has used journalists, the media, the Red Crescent and ambulances to carry out terror attacks,” said Liberman.

He indicated that Murtaja had been shot after using a drone.

“We can’t take a risk with anyone who flies a drone over the heads of IDF soldiers,” Liberman said.

“We warned everyone in advance,” he said. “We sent warnings in Arabic, Hebrew and English. Everyone knew that we were determined to defend Israeli citizens and our sovereignty. Those who take risks and endanger their lives do so knowingly.”

The march is not led by people who want peace, and there are no calls for peace at this event, Liberman said, adding: “There is no talk of economics or coexistence. All the speeches are about destroying Israel and the return of the [Palestinian] refugees to Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jaffa.”

Just imagine how France or Russia would react in this same situation, he told Army Radio.

The only reason the Arab League has reacted is because this type of protest creates unrest within their own countries, he said.

To date, the IDF has killed 31 Palestinians on the Gaza border in this set of protests, most of whom the IDF says were Hamas operatives, while the Palestinians argue that they were peaceful protesters.

 Reporters Without Borders called for an independent investigation into Murtaja’s death. Secretary-general Christophe Deloire said: “We urge the Israeli government to adhere strictly to UN Security Council Resolution 2222 on protecting journalists.”

It claimed that at least six journalists were injured during Friday’s events, including cameraman Khalil Abu Adhra.

Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.

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