Israel ‘deploys 100 snipers’ on Gaza border ahead of Palestinian protests

Israel ‘deploys 100 snipers’ on Gaza border ahead of Palestinian protests
Palestinians plant olive seedlings ahead of the Land Day, near the border with Israel east of Gaza City, on March 20, 2018. / AFP / MOHAMMED ABED
Updated 28 March 2018

Israel ‘deploys 100 snipers’ on Gaza border ahead of Palestinian protests

Israel ‘deploys 100 snipers’ on Gaza border ahead of Palestinian protests

JERUSALEM: Israeli chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot has warned the army has been given authorization to open fire ahead of mass protests on the Gaza border planned for Friday.
Eisenkot said reinforcements, including special forces snipers, had been deployed to the border to counter what he said was the most serious risk of conflict since he took up his post in 2015.
A series of incidents in recent days, including two infiltrations, one by three armed Palestinians who penetrated some 20 kilometers (12 miles) inside Israel, has already sent tensions soaring on the volatile frontier.
Friday’s mass rallies near the border fence mark the start of more than six weeks of planned protests leading up to the inauguration of the new US embassy in Jerusalem around May 14.
US President Donald Trump’s recognition of the disputed city as Israel’s capital in December has infuriated Palestinians who claim its annexed eastern sector as the capital of their future state.
Gazans are being urged to set up a string of protest camps along the Israeli border, each some 100 meters (yards) from the security fence, and the army is braced for attempts to break through.
“We won’t allow mass infiltration into Israel and to damage the fence, and certainly not to reach the communities,” Eisenkot told the mass-circulation Yediot Aharonot newspaper.
“The instructions are to use a lot of force,” he said.
“We’ve deployed more than 100 snipers who have been drafted from all the army’s units, mainly from the special units. In the event of mortal danger, there is authorization to open fire.”
Hamas, the Islamist group which controls Gaza, has fought three wars with Israel since 2008, the most recent of which in 2014 ended with a fragile truce.
Asked whether he feared a new conflict, Eisenkot said: “The chance of that happening is greater this year than it was in the first three years of my term.
“There are a lot of negative vectors in the region that are pushing toward a conflict.”
Eisenkot gave a similar warning in a separate interview with left-leaning newspaper Haaretz.
“An explosive, sensitive situation is developing in the entire Middle East, but especially among the Palestinians,” he said.


European powers warn Iran over uranium metal plans

European powers warn Iran over uranium metal plans
Updated 10 sec ago

European powers warn Iran over uranium metal plans

European powers warn Iran over uranium metal plans
  • The production of uranium metal has potentially grave military implications: Britain, France and Germany
  • Iran had signed up to a 15-year ban on "producing or acquiring plutonium or uranium metals or their alloys" under the JCPOA

BERLIN: European powers on Saturday voiced deep concern over Iran's plans to produce uranium metal, warning that Tehran has "no credible civilian use" for the element.
"The production of uranium metal has potentially grave military implications," said the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany in a joint statement.
Iran had signed up to a 15-year ban on "producing or acquiring plutonium or uranium metals or their alloys" under the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) signed in 2015 with world powers.
"We strongly urge Iran to halt this activity, and return to compliance with its JCPoA commitments without further delay if it is serious about preserving the deal," said the ministers.
Their call came after Iran told the UN nuclear watchdog on Wednesday that it was advancing research on uranium metal production, saying it is aimed at providing advanced fuel for a research reactor in Tehran.
The landmark 2015 deal agreed between Iran and the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany to curb Tehran's nuclear ambitions has been largely in tatters since President Donald Trump withdrew from it in 2018 and reimposed harsh sanctions.
The Iranian government has signalled a readiness to engage with US President-elect Joe Biden, who takes office on January 20 and who has expressed willingness to return to diplomacy with Tehran.