Israel warns Hamas over protest

Air strikes kill three Palestinian fighters as army beefs up border forces.

    The Israeli military has reportedly deployed more
    artillery along the border [Reuters]
    The Israeli military attacked areas in Khan Yunis, Gaza city and Rafah.
     
    The latest deaths brought the toll to 190 Palestinians killed since Israel resumed peace talks with the Palestinian Authority.

     

    'Human chain'

     

    The pro-Hamas Popular Committee Against the Siege which is organising Monday's protest, said about 40,000-50,000 women and children are expected to form a "human chain" stretching the length of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

     

    Palestinians have been protesting the siege
    of Gaza since last month [GALLO/GETTY]

    The group denied the protest included plans to breach the Israeli border.

     

    Jamal al-Khudary, a Palestinian legislator heading the group, said they had no intention of approaching the fence "either in the north or the south".

     

    "We hope all the participants will abide by the instructions and we will try to prevent any violations," he said.

     

    The group said that Hamas-controlled schools across Gaza would get time off to allow students to take part in the protest.

     

    Security beefed up

     

    Israel's paramilitary border police are on standby while the army has boosted security and surveillance at the Gaza frontier border ahead of the human chain protest.

     

    Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, and Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister, said Israel will defend its territory and "stop any infiltration attempt into its sovereign borders".

     

    "Hamas is behind activities that place the civilian population on the front lines," they said in a rare joint statement.

     

    "Israel is acting to prevent an escalation but makes it clear that if it does happen the responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of Hamas."

     

    An Israeli security source said the army was preparing for "all scenarios", and Israeli television has reported artillery reinforcements along the frontier.

     

    "Obviously, if gunmen start shooting at the fence we will have to respond in kind and we are absolutely unwilling to countenance a situation where the fence is breached like it was at Rafah," the source said.

     

    Hamas fighters blew open Gaza's southern Rafah border wall with Egypt last month.

     

    Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians crossed over to buy food and fuel in short supply because of a blockade.

     

    Israel said it imposed the blockade because of cross-border rocket attacks by Hamas fighters.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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