Hamas has intensified its violent demonstrations against Israel, turning the border between the Jewish state and the Gaza Strip into a "24/7" war zone as the terrorist group amps up its efforts to kidnap Israeli soldiers, according to Israeli security sources and regional reports.
Hamas ramped up this past week its months-long violent demonstrations along the Gaza border as part of new plans to "kidnap soldiers so that it will have a bargaining chip to use against Israel for speeding up the removal of the blockade," according to an investigation into new ways Hamas is probing Israel's defenses provided by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, or JCPA, a security research institute.
Violence raged throughout the weekend and into late Monday, with some 20,000 Palestinians participating in the demonstration, which have grown increasingly violent as Hamas operatives begin to deploy explosive devices, grenades, incendiary balloons, and other makeshift weapons.
Hamas's goal is create as much confusion and violence on the border as possible to elicit a response from the Israeli Defense Forces that could provide the terror group with an opportunity to kidnap soldiers. The renewed border violence is part of an effort by Hamas to test Israel's will and provoke a violent response.
"Over the past few weeks, Hamas has intensified the violence on the border after the failure of talks with Egyptian intelligence services in Cairo about reconciliation and calm and after the refusal of [Palestinian Authority] chairman Mahmoud Abbas to remove the sanctions that he imposed on the Gaza Strip," according to the JCPA's report.
"The number of participants in the demonstrations has risen to 20,000 people," the group disclosed. "Extensive use has been made of lethal tactics such as throwing explosive charges and grenades at IDF soldiers, and there has been a rise in terror attacks caused by sending incendiary balloons and kites into Israel."
Hamas's chief priority: The kidnap of Israeli soldiers so that they can be used as pawns in the terror group's campaign against Israel.
"Hamas' overall objective is to take the IDF by surprise by blowing up the fence at several points and infiltrating into Israeli territory to harm IDF soldiers or abduct them and take them into the Gaza Strip," according to the JCPA.
To this end, "Hamas has turned the violent demonstrations at the Gaza border into 24/7 events to get the IDF soldiers accustomed to the ongoing presence of Palestinian activists at the fence, including at night," the JCPA found.
"These nightly activities are carried out by a special unit called the 'night confusion units,' which burn tires, sound sirens, blind IDF soldiers with lasers, and more," according to the report.
Violence against Israel was further fanned when Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh "made a surprise appearance at one of the demonstrations," according to the JCPA.
Additionally, an investigation by the IDF found that Palestinian protesters had "detonated a large explosive device" near a border fence.
"The explosives blew a large hole in the fence, through which around 20 terrorists infiltrated into Israel under the cover of a dense cloud of smoke created by burning tires," the JCPA reported. "An IDF force fired at them to push them back. Most of them turned back into Gaza, but three of them continued to move on toward a military outpost, where they were shot and killed."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed a devastating response to the continuing border crisis during a weekend cabinet meeting.
"Hamas has apparently not understood the message — if these attacks do not stop, they will be stopped in another way, in the form of very, very strong blows," Netanyahu was quoted as saying. "We are very close to another type of action which would include very strong blows. If Hamas is intelligent, it will cease fire and violence now."