MOSCOW, May 31. /TASS/. Militants from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, aided by Iran, are fanning the flames of the conflict in the Gaza Strip, Israel’s Ambassador to Moscow Gary Koren stated in an interview with TASS.
"On Tuesday morning [May 29], many in Israel woke up after the Gaza Strip had launched dozens of mortar shells and more than a 100 rockets aimed at Israeli cities and settlements," he said. "One of the bombs blew up on the territory of a kindergarten. Thankfully, that had happened before it opened. Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas terrorist organizations claimed responsibility for the attack."
The ambassador noted that Israel qualifies these actions as "the continuation of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist activities, which are responsible for the recent attacks on the border - planting explosives, throwing of Molotov cocktails, attempts to break through the border barricades between Israel and the Gaza Strip, as well as arson and attacks on Israeli security forces."
Koren noted that in response to the attacks from the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces "struck 35 terrorist targets - objects belonging to the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organizations." "These were militarized objects, ammunition storage facilities, naval installations, terrorist command centers," the Israeli diplomat pointed out.
According to him, within the framework of this operation, the Israeli forces destroyed a tunnel that the terrorists built at a checkpoint used to shuttle humanitarian deliveries to the Gaza Strip. "The checkpoint is called Kerem Shalom (border crossing)," he continued.
"The tunnel led from the Gaza Strip to Egypt and then to Israel, its aims were obviously related to terrorism. This is the tenth tunnel of this kind destroyed by the Israel Defense Forces since last October."
Peace in response to peace
Koren noted that "Israel will respond to peace with peace."
"Over the last several days, this peace has been maintained," the envoy continued. "But if attacks on Israeli settlements persist, we will strike the positions of terrorist organizations. As it happened in the past, Israel is doing its best not to hurt the civilian population of the Gaza Strip."
Israel’s ambassador stressed that the events that took place on the Gaza Strip border had not been peaceful demonstrations. "The terrorist activity was organized by Hamas and, more importantly, financially backed by Iran, under the guise of which the terrorists are trying to kill Israeli civilians, abduct Israeli soldiers, cause damage to Israel’s property and infrastructure," he explained.
Koren pointed out that the main document of Hamas, the so-called Hamas Covenant, which "openly states that their goal is to annihilate the state of Israel." "When they started this deadly initiative on March 30, the Hamas leadership proclaimed their intentions to break through the border and called for the murder of Israeli citizens," the ambassador emphasized.
Gaza Strip escalation
Since March 30, 114 Palestinians were killed and more than 13,000 were injured or suffered from gas poisoning in clashes with Israeli soldiers on the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip. Two thousand teenagers and more than 1,000 women were among the injured. The multitude of demonstrations in the Gaza Strip started at the end of March, and for seven Fridays in a row, they led to clashes and unrest in the neighboring areas.
On May 14, over 60 Palestinians were killed in clashes with the Israeli Army during acts of protest sparked by the official opening of the new US Embassy in Jerusalem.
On May 29, the Gaza Strip launched the most intensive rocket barrage on Israel since the Operation Protective Edge, which took place in the summer of 2014.