A leading figure in the militant Palestinian organization Hamas has admitted that 50 out of the 60 people who were killed during Monday’s protests were members of the violent group.
Salah Bardawil, a senior Hamas official, told Palestinian news outlet Baladna TV that “in the last rounds of confrontations, if 62 people were martyred, Fifty of the martyrs were Hamas and 12 from the people,” before adding “How can Hamas reap the fruits if it pays such an expensive price?”
Bardawil insisted that these figures were “official,” according to the Times of Israel. “I am giving you an official figure. 50 of the martyrs in the recent battle were from Hamas,” Bardawil explained.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that Israeli forces estimated similar numbers of Hamas militants were involved in the riotous protests. “The Hamas spokesperson said today that about 50 of the 60 who were killed are Hamas operatives. We have similar figures,” he tweeted.
“They are not defending us from some civilian demonstrations,” he added. “This is a warlike move by Hamas. That is why Israel will continue to defend itself for as long as necessary and will not allow those who call for its destruction to storm its borders and threaten our communities.”
However, Hamas spokesman Fawzy Barhoum did not confirm the notion that some 50 of the protesters were members of the Islamist militant movement. He told AFP that Hamas had paid for the funerals for all 50 “whether they are members or supporters of Hamas, or unrelated to the factions.”
Bassem Naim, another senior Hamas official, insisted that members of Hamas were “participating peacefully” when they were struck down by Israeli sniper fire.
The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) have repeatedly denied claims that they opened fire on innocent protesters. The IDF shared a video of the interview with Al-Bardawil on its Twitter account.
Hamas official, Dr. Salah Al-Bardawil is clear about terrorist involvement in the riots pic.twitter.com/p5My6JGQRr
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) May 16, 2018
“This proves what so many have tried to ignore: Hamas is behind these riots, and the branding of the riots as ‘peaceful protests’ could not be further from the truth,” said IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus. “Most of the people [from terror groups] killed belonged to the Hamas terror group, and some to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” an IDF spokesperson said.
Here's what happened just a few days ago when Palestinians, some armed w/ machetes, crossed the #Gaza border into Israel. Note the man waving a machete, saying that he will slaughter Jews.
We have a duty to stop these terrorists from breaching the border & murdering our people. pic.twitter.com/HDjaEw9vFS
— Ofir Gendelman (@ofirgendelman) May 15, 2018
Faithwire’s Dan Andros and The Blaze’s Jason Buttrill were on the ground at the Gaza border and witnessed the violent clashes first-hand. They managed to catch up with IDF Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, who explained how Hamas is using children, prisoners, and others to try and storm the fence with the expressed purpose of killing Israeli citizens.