ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A senior Hamas official on Wednesday claimed 50 of the 62 people killed by Israeli forces in demonstrations along the Gaza strip earlier in the week were members of the terrorist-designated group.
“In the last rounds of confrontations, if 62 people were martyred, 50 of them were Hamas,” Salah Al-Bardawil, a top Hamas official, said in an interview with the Palestinian Baladna news outlet.
Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, meanwhile, said the official’s comments prove Hamas was behind the unrest on the Israeli-Palestinian border.
“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,” Conricus stated.
On Monday, at least 62 Palestinian demonstrators were killed in a fresh wave of protests as the United States prepared to open its embassy in Jerusalem after relocating it from Tel Aviv.
According to the Associated Press, a senior figure in Gaza’s ruling Hamas group said the border protests would continue “until the rights of the Palestinian people are achieved.”
The armed group have controlled Gaza since 2007 and do not recognize the Israeli state.
In January, Washington officially named Ismail Haniyeh, who has been Hamas’ political chief since May 2017, a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist.”
The US designation followed President Donald Trump’s Dec. 6 announcement that America would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, officially recognizing it as Israel’s capital in the process.
Trump’s decision received backlash from many countries who argued it would increase tensions between Israelis and Palestinians who have been locked in decades of war and disagreement, particularly regarding the status of the city.
Last week, US embassy road signs were raised in Jerusalem ahead of the official opening of the building which took place on May 14, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s declaration of independence on the same day in 1948.
Russia, France, and the United Nations were among those who called on Israel to show restraint while also expressing their disapproval of the US embassy move.