Shin Bet head Nadav Argaman gave newly-appointed Egyptian General Intelligence Services chief Abbas Kamel a message on Tuesday to pass along to Hamas regarding the protests in the border region between Israel and the Gaza Strip, Army Radio reported on Wednesday morning.Argaman told Kamel in a meeting in central Israel that the Jewish state has “no tolerance for what is happening” in the border region, Army Radio’s Arab Affairs correspondent Jacky Hugi said.
Thousands of Gazans participated in the first day of six-weeks of Hamas-backed protests in the border region last Friday in support of the return of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to their former homes in Israel.Israel security forces shot dead at least 16 Gazans on Friday in the border region including 10 protesters, which the IDF identified as members of armed groups. The IDF described the protest as a “violent riot,” asserting that many protesters threw Molotov cocktails and rocks at its soldiers, opened fire on them, attempted to infiltrate Israel’s borders and set tires alight. Videos shared on Facebook and Twitter appear to show some protesters participating in violent actions, while several others did not.However, several human rights organizations have said that the IDF targeted “unarmed civilians.” Adalah, an Israeli rights organization, said on Friday that Israel opened fire on “unarmed civilians” and violated international legal obligations to distinguish between civilians and combatants. Videos shared on Twitter and Facebook appear to show Israeli soldiers shooting at Palestinians who did not seem to present any imminent threat to their lives.In the past several days, groups of young of Gazans have been collecting old tires around the coastal enclave and bringing them to the border region ahead of another major protest scheduled to take place this Friday.The young Gazans intend to light the tires on fire to blur the vision of the soldiers on the other side of the border fence, according to a Gaza-based source familiar with preparations for the protest this Friday, which he called “the Friday of Old Tires.” “The hope is that the soldiers will not be able to shoot because the thick, black smoke will block their line of vision,” he said in a phone call with The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.Pictures and videos on social media show that hundreds of tires have been transported to the border region.The source said that Gazans participating in the protest “feel disillusioned about the miserable situation in the Strip.”“They know that they are putting their lives at risk by going to the border area, but they feel like they have nothing to lose,” he said. “They feel as if they are already dead.”Many Gazans suffer from power and clean water shortages and unemployment, rely on international aid and are granted limited or no options to travel abroad.B’tselem, an Israeli human rights group, called on Israeli soldiers on Wednesday to refuse orders to open fire on unarmed protesters in the coming days, arguing that such action is in contravention of international law.According to the human rights group, international law holds that live fire against demonstrators is only permitted in “instances involving tangible and immediate mortal danger, and only in the absence of any other alternative.” Later on Wednesday, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman lashed out at B’tselem on Army Radio, accusing the group of carrying out “a campaign of rebellion.”Liberman has said twice in the past week that Gazans who approach the border fence are putting their lives in jeopardy.
Palestinians mark "Land Day" with protests on Israel-Gaza border (Reuters)