As thousands of Palestinians demonstrated along the Gaza border on Friday, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, speaking before protesters, warned that the Strip was ready to “explode in the face of the occupation.”
He said the world should “wait for our great move, when we breach the borders and pray at Al-Aqsa,” referring to the major Muslim shrine in Jerusalem.
Arriving at one of the demonstration sites, Sinwar received a hero’s welcome. He was surrounded by hundreds of supporters who chanted, “We are going to Jerusalem, millions of martyrs.”
Friday’s violent demonstration was the second of what Gaza’s ruling Hamas terror group said would be several weeks of “March of Return” protests which Hamas leaders say ultimately aim to see the removal of the border and the liberation of Palestine.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered along the Gaza border, burning tires and throwing firebombs and rocks at Israeli soldiers, who responded with tear gas and live fire, the army and witnesses said.
Hamas said seven Gazans were killed by Israeli fire as of 8:30 p.m. The IDF said it thwarted multiple efforts to breach the border fence — and that it used live fire to do so in some instances — as well as attempts to activate bombs against the troops under the cover of smoke.
“Rioters have attempted to damage and cross the security fence under the cover of smoke from their burning tires. They also attempted to carry out terror attacks and hurl explosive devices and firebombs,” the IDF said on Friday evening. “Our forces prevented breaches” of the fence.
Sinwar said his terror group was “following in the path of martyr Yasser Arafat in resisting the enemy” and that the “conspiracy of besieging the Gaza Strip, with the hope that its residents would revolt against Hamas, has failed.
“They thought that by putting pressure on the Gaza Strip, the masses would revolt against the Palestinian resistance,” he said.
“They thought the people would launch an uprising against the tunnels and the rockets and the commandos [belonging to Hamas’s military wing]. They thought that if the Gaza Strip is starved, it would give up its principles and would abandon the project of liberation and return.”
Sinwar said that Friday’s demonstrators along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, the second of their kind in the past week, “have come out to say that this is the enemy that is besieging us, and that if we explode we will explode in its face.”
The Gaza Strip, he continued, will not starve and will not give up its principles. “If Gaza explodes, it will explode in the face of the occupation,” he added, referring to Israel.
Another senior Hamas leader, Mahmoud Zahar, said during a similar visit to the protest sites that the demonstrations would continue until the Palestinians return to “all of Palestine.”
“We will not make any concessions even if the whole world conspires against us,” Zahar said.
Times of Israel