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Photo: GettyImages
IDF troops on the Gaza border
Photo: GettyImages
Sniper every 20 meters, overlooking Sinwar's home
At times, IDF snipers are holding their fire even after receiving the okay to shoot, because they can't be 100% sure they'd hit main instigators in the ankle due to smoke obstructing their view; women and children stayed mostly at home, despite Hamas calls to go to the fence en masse for Naksa Day. Ynet reports from the border, near Khan Yunis.

The home of Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, overlooks the most violent protest spot on the Gaza border from the nearby Khan Yunis. It is there that thousands of Palestinians once again tried and failed on Friday to breach the fence and infiltrate the nearby Israeli communities of Nir Oz and Nirim.

 

 

Despite Hamas's expectations, there was a relatively small number of participants in protests marking the last Palestinian memorial day, Naksa Day. The terror group's calls did not galvanize the masses from the strip to clash with IDF forces on the border fence, and only a quarter of those who did come - some 10,000 people - confronted the Israeli troops.


 

Unlike previous protests, IDF soldiers hardly saw any women and children come close to the flashpoints on the border—a possible indication that the residents, and particularly the parents, have been deterred—again despite great efforts by Hamas to bring the masses to the fence.

 

The border fence has not been breached in any of the incidents, but at least four Palestinians have been reported dead and over 600 wounded—some suffering from gas inhalation and few from gunshot wounds inflicted by IDF snipers.

 

 (Photo: EPA)
(Photo: EPA)

 

The IDF further stressed the rules of engagement to the forces on Friday morning, making sure that every sniper and rifleman would reset his weapon in order to hit as accurately as possible main instigators trying to breach the fence or lead the clashes in the legs.

 

According to the IDF, every attempt to break through the fence is well managed on the Palestinian side, with a rear commander, observation posts, coordinators in yellow vests, video equipment and communication devices.

 

On the other side of the fence are the snipers from the IDF's elite units, armed with M24 and SR-25 rifles and nerves of steel. The snipers are widely deployed, covering almost every piece of dead space, and in some places they are less than 20 meters apart.

 

IDF snipers on the Gaza border (Photo: Reuters)
IDF snipers on the Gaza border (Photo: Reuters)

 

They found themselves on Friday often holding their fire, sometimes for 10 minutes, even after receiving approval from the senior commanders in the field—the battalion commanders or the brigade commander.

 

The reason: The snipers are not 100 percent sure they could hit the ankle of the main instigator trying to break through the fence, because of the smoke that is limiting their view.

 

For the first time on Friday, the Palestinians used explosive balloons, which were flown out of the strip from the Bureij area, but caused no casualties on the Israeli side.

 

 (Photo: AP)
(Photo: AP)

 

Two other incidents this week included firsts—one involving 1.5 kg of explosives hidden in the handles of a cutter and another a kite carrying an explosive.

 

The cutter explosive device, which was set off in a controlled explosion by the IDF, could have claimed the lives of at least four soldiers had they been close to it while it went off, according to Gaza Division experts analyzing the device.

 

The smaller charge that was affixed to a kite, meanwhile, included some 50 small iron balls and was designed to be triggered using a cellphone. 

 

 (Photo: Reuters)
(Photo: Reuters)

 

IDF officials estimate that the incidents and clashes on the border fence will continue in the coming weeks, though at much smaller doses. Hamas apparently seeks to wear down IDF forces with continued clashes and security incidents in near future. The IDF, however, is preparing to relieve and replace the reinforcements sent to the Gaza Division during weekends.

  

Hamas forces have been deployed to the defend the Palestinian side of the Kerem Shalom border crossing to prevent further sabotage and arson by rioters.

 

 (Photo: EPA)
(Photo: EPA)

 

Meanwhile, other Hamas military posts along the border seemed empty on Friday, in an effort to encourage Gaza residents to come to the border without fear of repercussions from the Palestinian side. But Hamas men armed with AK-47 were spotted some 300 meters from the fence, shooting at the many drones the IDF was operating, unsuccessfully trying to shoot them down.

 

There have been increasing voices among the Palestinians to fire a rocket or a mortar shell at Israel for every Palestinian dead in Friday's clashes.

 

The IDF is therefore still on high alert and preparing for possible escalation in the next 24 hours, among other things by deploying a significant number of Iron Dome batteries to the Eshkol Regional Council and the northern Gaza area.

 


First published: 06.08.18, 22:08
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