“Anyone who approaches the border is endangering his life. From my point of view, if bus companies you own take some of the protestors and bring them to the border, you and your families will be held personally responsible,” Mordechai warned during an interview on the Alhurra United States-based public Arabic-language satellite TV channel.
Mordechai then turned to the bus companies themselves, saying that “If you enjoyed benefits in the past, they will be canceled.”
Severe steps would be taken by the IDF, he continued, against any attempts by the protesters to approach the border fence or damage it or to infiltrate into Israeli territory.
“The Israeli response will be strong, and not only against the protestors. Every option is on the table,” he added.
Mordechai said that the IDF had cautioned the bus companies in the coastal enclave against becoming involved in any way in the protest, emphasizing again that protestors attempting to breach the border would be dealt with with a heavy hand.
“Personal steps will be taken against anyone who uses the buses to get to the violent protests and against the bus company owners,” he stated. “We made contact with more than 20 managers of bus companies that Hamas paid to encourage people who don’t want to leave their homes and participate in these violent protests.”
Asked whether punitive steps would be meted out against officials in Gaza, Mordechai reiterated that all options were at the IDF’s disposal. “We intend to do anything in order to prevent violent protests and terroristic protests,” he responded.
Hamas, he continued, had failed. “It has failed in the economy, in its management of Gaza, in the reconciliation deal and in its military terror project in which it invested all its millions in building underground tunnels,” Mordechai said in the interview.
Mordechai was also asked about the meetings and conferences he had recently attended to raise money for Gaza.
“These conferences, which took place in Cairo, Brussels and the White House are important because Hamas failed in the economic aspect and its management of Gaza,” he repeated.
He also emphasized that “we have information that Hamas, after it realized that all options had been closed on its face, is trying to open a direct line with Tehran via the al-Quds brigade in order to smuggle money and aid into the strip.”
The IDF has deployed more than 100 sharpshooters on the Gaza border ahead of a planned mass Palestinian demonstration near the frontier, Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot told Yedioth Ahronoth in a special interview that will be published in full on Friday.
“We have deployed more than 100 sharpshooters who were called up from all of the military’s units, primarily from the special forces,” Eisenkot said in the interview. “If lives are in jeopardy, there is permission to open fire.”
The IDF has been issuing daily warnings to the residents of Gaza ahead of the planned protest. On Tuesday evening, it warned the residents not to approach the border fence with Israel during their “Great March of Return” planned for Friday, and described it as a “March of Anarchy.
Israeli security forces are bracing for the upcoming mass march in the strip, and preparing for extreme scenarios envising diversion operations designed to enable Hamas terrorists to infiltrate into Israel while Israeli security forces are dealing with rioters spread across the border.
In a video posted in Arabic on the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit Facebook page, residents were told that Hamas was using them as a decoy in its violent schemes rather than providing solutions to the problems that Gazans face.