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'Hamas Using Palestinian Masses as Newest Weapon Against Israel'

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JERUSALEM, Israel – Israel says its military has delivered eight trucks full of humanitarian aid and medical supplies to the Gaza Strip.

Cogat, the military body for Palestinian civilian affairs, said Tuesday it has transferred 53 tons of medical equipment to Gaza this week, including medical fluids, bandages, and physical therapy treadmills. It says fuel will be distributed later.

The trucks entered Tuesday, as medical facilities in Gaza were struggling to treat hundreds of people, according to The Associated Press.

Monday was the bloodiest day in Gaza since the 2014 war between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers. Dozens of people were killed and 2,700 were wounded.

READ: Nikki Haley Blasts Hamas for Gaza Border Deaths: 'Make No Mistake, Hamas Is Pleased'

Hamas is using massive violent demonstrations along the Gaza border as its newest weapon against Israel, experts said Tuesday, as the US backed Israel's right to defend itself.

Rioting along the Gaza border continued for a second day after Palestinians marked what they call the "nakba" – the catastrophe they believe befell them when Israel became a nation in 1948.  There was also rioting in Palestinian-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), with the IDF reporting about 700 rioting in 14 locations.

On Monday some 35,000-40,000 Gazans stormed the security fence on the border between Israel and Gaza – hurling firebombs and explosive devices at Israel Defense Forces troops. They also burned tires, threw rocks and launched flaming objects to ignite fires inside Israel, the IDF said.

It was the worst day of violence in the six-week campaign they dubbed the "March of Return," supposedly to recharge Palestinian desires to take over part of Israel they claim as their own.

Hamas claimed some 60 dead from the day's violent activities, though there was no independent confirmation of the number. The IDF said 24 of those killed were terrorists.  Funerals were held Tuesday.

No Country More Restrained than Israel

The Israeli reaction prompted calls for a UN investigation. But the US blocked the Security Council's call for an investigation into the Gaza trouble.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley defended Israel saying, "No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has."

Haley also said Hamas has been inciting for years, long before the US Embassy move to Jerusalem.

The violence peaked as Americans and Israelis celebrated the move on the 70th anniversary of Israel's declaration of Independence.

US Senators Lindsey Graham, R-SC, and Ted Cruz, R-TX, who were here for the celebrations, addressed the connection between the possibility of violence and the US Embassy move before the trouble on Monday.

"If you're waiting to do something bold in the Middle East without conflict, you'll die waiting," Graham said.

"For 20-something years it's been the position of the United States that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. They claim it to be their capital. There's a lot of evidence that it is. But from an American government perspective this is a bi-partisan decision that's been in place over 20 years," Graham said.

"This should not catch anybody by surprise. The only surprise is we got a president that actually enacted the decision to move the embassy rather than just talk about it," he added.

"We may see terrorists who choose to commit acts of murder today, but it is a total mistake. It is wrong to exonerate those murderers for the consequences of their action simply for speaking the truth. The truth is Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. America is recognizing that unquestionable truth," Cruz said. "And it is not as if the terrorists need an excuse to commit acts of violence and murder."

"If you've got a problem with Jerusalem being the capital of Israel, take it up with God! That's where it all started," Graham told CBN News.


On Tuesday, Turkey expelled Israel's ambassador.  

"Turkish President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan is among Hamas's biggest supporters and there is no doubt that he well understands terrorism and slaughter. I suggest that he not preach morality to us," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

"The man who sends thousands of Turkish soldiers to maintain the occupation of northern Cyprus and invades Syria will not preach to us when we defend ourselves against invasion by Hamas. A man whose hands are drenched in the blood of countless Kurdish civilians in Turkey and Syria is the last one who can preach to us about military ethics," he added.

Hamas in Trouble

The IDF said according to its information, as well as Hamas' own declarations, the rioting is actually a cover-up for carrying out terror attacks.

"Hamas ultimately intends to conduct a series of terror attacks, including a mass infiltration into Israel from a number of locations, which is intended to harm Israeli citizens and security forces," the IDF said in a statement.

Retired Israeli Maj.-Gen. Yaakov Amidror, former National Security advisor and senior fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies, said that Hamas is in trouble.

"Hamas is in a very bad position," Amidror explained in a briefing hosted by The Israel Project.

"Hamas understands that after we developed the Iron Dome [it] cannot launch successfully rockets into Israel. Slowly, slowly we are building a system which will prevent Hamas from using the underground tunnels that became kind of a strategic weapon," Amidror said.

"We destroyed in the last 10 months, nine tunnels, and the system that we are building will be even smarter in the future and better position to stop all attempts by the Hamas to infiltrate into Israel in these tunnels," he said.

Because of Israel's success in destroying the tunnels, Hamas is using the population to breach the fence as a weapon against Israel, said IDF Col. (res.) Eyal Rosen, reserve commander of the IDF's Gaza Border War Room Command Center and former head of the IDF Southern Command artillery unit.

"Hamas is using the people, the citizens as human shields," Rosen said in a briefing for journalists. "Unlike Israeli commanders [who are] usually in front, on the other side, Hamas [is] sending people and this time they are sending more and more women and children to the front and this time the commanders, the leaders of Hamas are in the rear," Rosen added.

He said the Hamas operatives use the women and children as cover to get as close as possible to the fence with grenades and explosives and weapons to attack Israeli forces.

Amidror and Rosen both said Hamas is unwilling to invest the money it gets in the people.

"Those tunnels that were used by Hamas as their main weapon against Israel" were costly, said Rosen.

"Imagine now taking those billions of dollars and invest those dollars in health care or water systems, electricity, etc., and making this place, the Gaza Strip, to be like the Singapore of the Middle East," he said. 

Photos courtesy of the IDF Spokesman's Office

This year marks 70 years since the reestablishment of Israel as a modern nation. Click here for more about CBN's movie, "To Life," on the positive global impact of Israel.




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About The Author

Julie Stahl

Julie Stahl is a correspondent for CBN News in the Middle East. A Hebrew speaker, she has been covering news in Israel full-time for more than 20 years. Julie’s life as a journalist has been intertwined with CBN – first as a graduate student in Journalism, then as a journalist with Middle East Television (METV) when it was owned by CBN from 1989-91, and now with the Middle East Bureau of CBN News in Jerusalem since 2009. As a correspondent for CBN News, Julie has covered Israel’s wars with Gaza, rocket attacks on Israeli communities, stories on the Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria, and the