Iran is funding Hamas' ongoing efforts to promote violence against Israel disguised as mass demonstrations at the Gaza Strip border, Israel's internal security service said on Monday.
Shin Bet released a statement explaining that Hamas, the Palestinian, U.S.-designated terrorist group in control of Gaza, has told its own members to stay away from the border fence during the violent protests while encouraging civilians to advance toward the barrier, the Times of Israel reported. But if the fence is breached, then Hamas is ready to penetrate Israel to attack Israelis.
"There is a prohibition for Hamas operatives to approach the border, from a fear that they will be killed or captured by IDF [Israel Defense Forces] troops, unless the security fence falls and then they must enter, armed, into Israel under the cover of the masses and carry out terror attacks," the agency said, noting its findings are from a number of interrogations.
Shin Bet added that Iran is bankrolling the Hamas-led campaign to breach Israel's border fence.
"From the information we have, it appears Hamas is encouraging and sending protesters to the border fence in order to carry out violent acts and damage security infrastructure," the agency statement said. "In addition, it was found that Iran is providing funding to Hamas in order for it to carry out these violent activities along the Gaza Strip's border fence."
Iran and Hamas renewed their close ties last year, after years of tension over the latter's refusal to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria's ongoing conflict. Tehran provides significant support to Gaza's governing body and backs its efforts to attack Israel.
The Shin Bet statement came out amid violent protests and riots in Gaza. Over the past seven weeks, thousands of Palestinians have gathered at the Gaza border in what organizers have called the "March of Return." During the demonstrations, some Palestinians, including Hamas operatives, have attacked Israel and Israeli soldiers with explosives, rocks, and other weapons. There have been several attempts to breach Israel's border fence.
The riots most recently broke out at the Gaza border on Monday, when the U.S. embassy in Israel officially moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The demonstrations are expected to continue into Tuesday, Nakba Day (translated as "catastrophe"), when Palestinians mark the creation of the state of Israel.