The vast majority of Palestinian fatalities during violent demonstrations on the Israel-Gaza border were members or affiliates of terrorist organizations – primarily Hamas.
Of the 112 reported deaths from March 30 to May 14, 93 people (83 percent) belonged to or were associated with terrorist groups, according to a new analysis from the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.
Most of the dead connected to terrorist groups – 63 people – were Hamas members. This figure is consistent with assessments offered by two senior Hamas officials as the violence played out. Salah Bardawil claimed that Hamas members represented half of the total deaths and boasted that of 62 people killed on May 14, 50 were Hamas members. Hamas political chief Yayha Sinwar claimed more than 60 Hamas deaths on that day.
Members from other Palestinian terrorist groups, including Fatah and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), also were killed in the clashes but played a less prominent role in organizing the demonstrations.
Click here for the full Meir Amit report, which includes details concerning the terrorists' affiliations. It used social media accounts and Palestinian websites to match the names of the dead to terrorist groups.
The findings, supported by official statements from Hamas leaders, prove that Hamas was the driving force behind the deadly protests, which were depicted as peaceful demonstrations.
Hamas orchestrated several attacks at the border and encouraged Palestinians to infiltrate into Israel. Other rioters threw pipe bombs at the fence and deployed Molotov kites, sparking fires in Israeli fields near the border. Some terrorists engaged in shooting attacks and planted improvised explosive devices.
Any attempts to portray the riots as "peaceful protests" defies the evidence and Hamas's own leadership.
Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahhar acknowledged that the Gaza demonstrations were "not peaceful resistance" and Hamas's efforts at the border are "bolstered by a military force and by security agencies."
"This is a clear terminological deception [i.e. "peaceful resistance"]. When you are in possession of weapons that were able to withstand the occupation in the wars of 2006, 2008, 2012, and 2014... This is not peaceful resistance... so when we talk about 'peaceful resistance,' we are deceiving the public," Al-Zahhar said in a May 13 interview.
Even though the riots have waned since May 14, Palestinian violence escalated significantly Tuesday morning.
Gaza-based terrorists fired 28 mortar shells at communities in southern Israel, injuring one civilian and striking a kindergarten yard just before children were due to arrive for school.
The Israeli military believes PIJ is responsible for the rocket barrage, but Israel tends to hold Hamas responsible for terrorist activity emanating from Gaza.
Hamas at times tries to restrain rival Palestinian groups from firing missiles at Israel to avoid sparking a wider war. Instead, Hamas developed a new tactic to violently confront Israel: forcing Palestinian civilians and terrorists to swarm and attack Israel's border, under the guise of peaceful protest, to exploiting the inevitable casualties for propaganda purposes.