Gaza border protests 'cannot continue', warns Israeli defence minister

Gaza border protests 'cannot continue', warns Israeli defence minister
2 min read
16 October, 2018
The Israeli defence minister's comments could foreshadow Israel stepping up its use of deadly force against Palestinian protesters at the Gaza separation fence.
Defence minister Avigdor Lieberman with Netanyahu [Getty]

Israel's defence minister warned on Tuesday that Gaza border protests could not be allowed to go on, a possible warning that the country's military could ramp up its use of deadly force against Palestinians. 

"The situation as it is today cannot continue," Avigdor Lieberman told troops and commanders at Reim army base, near southern Israel's border with Hamas-ruled Gaza. "We are not prepared to accept the level of violence we see week after week".

"We must strike Hamas a hard blow, this is the only way to bring the situation back to what is was before and to reduce the level of violence," Lieberman said in Hebrew, adding it must be a collective decision of the 12-member security cabinet.

Palestinians have staged regular protests along the Gaza separation fence since 30 March, demanding the right to return to homes their families fled or were expelled from during the creation of Israel in 1948. 

They are also calling for an end to the decade-long Israeli blockade that the UN says will make Gaza "unlivable" by 2020.

At least 205 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza since the March protests began.

Over the same period, one Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper.

Lieberman said that protests on Friday - which saw Israeli forces fire live bullets at demonstrators, killing 7 and wounding dozens - after Israel helped facilitate diesel shipments to the fuel-starved Gaza, were a turning point. 

The deal, brokered by the UN and backed by the US, Israel and others, had seen thousands of litres of Qatari-bought fuel trucked into Gaza daily since last Tuesday.

But on Friday night, Lieberman suspended the shipments in response to border protests.

During Tuesday's remarks, Lieberman also said he'll recommend striking Hamas when Israel's security Cabinet meets the following day. 

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