Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organizations recently threatened to ramp up violent protests on the Israel-Gaza border to force more Israeli concessions, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center reports.
A Hamas source, cited in the al-Akhbar daily on Feb. 1, threatened to re-start the terrorist group's arson terrorism campaign, including incendiary kites and balloons. Other threats included dispatching "night harassment groups" and initiating new terror tactics.
Another senior Hamas official Musheir al-Masri said the "return marches" were increasing in severity and that "non-violent" means, including arson terrorist campaigns, would be reignited if Israel failed to comply with Hamas demands. A member of Hamas' Supreme National Authority threatened that demonstrators could launch new terrorist initiatives, while a Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) official cited Palestinian "inventions" for confronting Israel. Similar threats were issued by Maher Muzhir, a senior member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
The Meir Amit assessment suggests that Hamas "continues to preserve restraint" on the Israel-Gaza border amid ongoing discussions with Egyptian and United Nations representatives.
Hamas officials also threatened to attack Israelis in direct operations on the border, including infiltrations into Israel.
Palestinian terrorist groups have relied on these methods to attack Israelis and cause significant economic damage. Sporadic incendiary kites and balloons continue to land on Israeli territory. During the past year, these devices sparked destructive fires that burned thousands of acres of crops and natural forest area. Containing the fires is a major strain on Israel's resources and significantly disrupts civilians' lives.
The border violence and most recent threats are meant to coerce Israel into adhering to Hamas' demands, including open border crossings and financial transfers.
The vast majority of Palestinians killed in response to weekly violent protests on the Israel-Gaza border are affiliated with Hamas and other terrorist groups.
Since the end of March, when the "return marches" started, 187 Palestinians were killed – including 150 (80 percent) members or affiliates of terrorist organizations. About half of those killed are either associated with Hamas or are full-blown members. Hamas military wing operatives represent almost a quarter of the total fatalities.
These findings are consistent with prior Meir Amit assessments and statements from top Hamas leaders.
The latest threats prove that Palestinian terrorist organizations, led by Hamas, are the driving forces behind organized violent attacks against Israel – hiding under the guise of peaceful and popular protests.