Israel reinforces troops outside Gaza as border protests enter 7th month

Israeli soldiers walk amidst smoke from a fire in a wheat field near the Kibbutz of Nahal Oz, along the border with the Gaza Strip, on May 14. (AFP)
Updated 04 October 2018

Israel reinforces troops outside Gaza as border protests enter 7th month

  • Israel accuses Gaza’s dominant Hamas group of inciting violence at the border, an allegation it denies
  • Israel and Egypt maintain tight restrictions on the movement of people and goods along their borders with Gaza

JERUSALEM: Israel said it was reinforcing troops around the Gaza Strip on Thursday as a precaution against incursions by Palestinians during violent protests along the border that have often been met by lethal Israeli fire.
The language of the Israeli military statement did not appear to herald any imminent offensive in Gaza but seemed to suggest stronger action at the frontier to foil any further Palestinian attempts to breach Israel’s security fence during the demonstrations, which began in March.
Israel accuses Gaza’s dominant Hamas group of inciting violence at the border, an allegation it denies. Hamas has controlled Gaza since 2007, during which time it has fought three wars with Israel, most recently in 2014.
Since the protests began in March at least 193 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, Gaza medics say. One Israeli soldier has been killed by a Palestinian sniper.
The protesters demand the easing of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the territory and rights to lands Palestinian families fled or were driven from on Israel’s founding in 1948.
The Israeli military said it “decided on wide-scale reinforcements in the southern command in the coming days and the continuation of a determined policy to thwart terror activity and prevent infiltrations into Israel from the Gaza Strip.”
Commenting on the deployment, Tzachi Hanegbi, a non-voting member of Israel’s security cabinet, told Israel Radio: “Our wish is to prevent escalation. I hope that the other side has a similar desire.”
In an interview published on Thursday in Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth daily and Italy’s la Repubblica newspaper, Hamas’s Gaza-based leader Yehya Al-Sinwar was quoted as saying that “a new war was not in anyone’s interest” but “an explosion was unavoidable” unless Gaza’s “siege” was lifted.
Citing security concerns, Israel and Egypt maintain tight restrictions on the movement of people and goods along their borders with Gaza, a policy that the World Bank says has brought the enclave of 2 million people to economic collapse.
Hanegbi said Hamas, which is engaged with Egypt in efforts to achieve a long-term cease-fire with Israel, had “gone back to its old ways” in recent weeks by encouraging “bombs, shooting and attempts to carry out terrorist attacks on the fence.”
“Therefore, a mobilization of troops is really required,” he said.


Iranian tanker no longer has Turkey destination

Updated 29 min 30 sec ago

Iranian tanker no longer has Turkey destination

  • The tanker was previously heading to Greece’s Kalamata
  • It was supposed to dock at Turkey’s Mersin port

ISTANBUL: An Iranian tanker at the center of a confrontation between Washington and Tehran is no longer recorded as heading for Turkey, Refinitiv Eikon shipping data showed on Monday, having switched to a Turkish destination at the weekend.
The vessel, fully laden with oil, had previously been heading to the port of Kalamata in southern Greece but Greece had said it would not offer any facilities to the tanker.
Shipping data on Saturday had then indicated the vessel was to dock at the southern Turkish port of Mersin on Aug. 31.
On Monday, Refinitiv Eikon data did not specify any destination for the Adrian Darya. Its location is currently south of mainland Greece, west of the island of Crete.
The Adrian Darya, formerly called Grace 1, was released in mid-August from detention off Gibraltar after a five-week standoff over whether it was carrying Iranian oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.
The United States, which says the tanker is controlled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, deemed a terrorist group by Washington, has told countries in the region not to assist it.