A version is this was first published in the Washington Jewish Week on April 11, 2018, but it has been updated to reflect more current realities on the ground.
On March 30th, coinciding with the start of Passover, the former and current Hamas Prime Ministers, Ismael Haniya, Yahya Sinwar organized what they called “The March of Return”. Since then, every Friday, there has been a demonstration at the Gaza border. Each week, the demonstrators are getting closer and closer to the actual border with Israel, and each week there are few and fewer demonstrators —the first week they had approximately 30,000 and this week, approximately 3, 000–but they are growing increasingly more violent.
As Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman put it, “We are fighting an uncompromising battle here, and the other side must understand there is a determined army here”, adding, “Every week there are fewer people, but much more terror activity.”
Although this had been dubbed by many news outlets throughout the world as a peaceful demonstration, these two Hamas leaders told their followers to quote “infiltrate the border”, and that this will “ mark the beginning of the liberation of all of Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.” –which encompasses all of Israel
This was not intended therefore, as many media outlets had described it, “ to eliminate the economic suffering in the Gaza Strip”, but rather, to eliminate the sheer existence of the Jewish state.
These protestors, many known terrorists of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al Qassam Brigades, among others came to Israel’s with the explicit instructions to penetrate through that border into Israel, which would create a security and demographic nightmare for the Jewish state.
Most significantly: They brought wire cutters with them.
The objective was also stated that they would remain there until May 15th, Israeli Independence Day, which the Palestinians and many in the Arab World dub “Nakba Day”, “the Day of the Catastrophe”. May 15this also, (not coincidentally), the day that President Trump and his team have designated for the opening of the American Embassy in Jerusalem. They came with tents, erected to remain there until the 15th.
This “march” was not a peaceful demonstration reminiscent of the sit ins of Selma Alabama. The protestors sought to storm the border with lethal intent, hurling firebombs, rocks and burning tires at Israeli soldiers. In at least two cases, they fired bullets directly at Israeli soldiers.
And unfortunately, it has resulted in a number of Palestinian fatalities, who have constantly been manipulated by their leaders to despise the state of Israel.
However, considering the inflammatory potential of the situation, the IDF has got to be commended for training their young men and women to act with such amazing discipline and restraint.
It is also important to remember that Gaza is not under Israeli occupation.
Photo: Amir Cohen/Reuters
Originally Published: http://washingtonjewishweek.com/45435/march-of-return-nothing-more-than-terrorists-plaything/editorial-opinion/voices/