The Israel-Gaza border fence has been the site of riots for 11 consecutive weekends, and Hamas has made every effort to bring the Gaza masses right up to the fence.
No Israeli soldier shoots live ammunition without a green light from the brigade commander. Meanwhile, incendiary kites and improvised explosives constantly fly toward the troops, and Hamas operatives constantly try to incite the masses of Gaza protesters into breaching the border fence and infiltrating Israel, while the terrorist leaders stay safely back.
This has been the reality for soldiers and officers deployed on the Gaza border for several weeks now. As they move from one position to another under the oppressive sun, they have one goal in mind: to protect the Israeli communities next to the Gaza border.
As we Israel Hayom reporters make our way toward the forces posted along the fence, we spot dozens of burning kites and balloons rigged with explosives in the smoky sky.
Hamas promised hundreds of kites, and it has kept its promise. During the protests, they launch these flaming kites, hoping they will land and cause harm. In the hot, dry climate, these kites turn into fire machines, and they have burned thousands of acres of Israeli farmland and forests. The roads near the border are full of fire trucks and JNF jeeps trying to prevent fires. But it’s a hard job, and a tree that was alive and breathing one moment bursts into flames the next.
Through the smoke, one can see the mosques of Gaza. The closer you get to the fence, the blacker the smoke appears. The Israeli soldiers, who are being harshly judged by the entire world every day, tell us, “We can barely see anything. Everything’s black.”
When the enraged mob armed with axes and knives reaches the fence, the criticism aimed at the IDF here and throughout the world suddenly seems incomprehensible and baseless. This is a war, and the soldiers and their commanders can account for the exact number of bullets fired, and where.
Protecting, not killing
The troops are not trying to kill; they are protecting the residents of nearby communities. A throng of protesters approaches the fence, shouting jubilantly – a sign that the fence is on the verge of being breached. Seven soldiers run toward them, using tear gas. Like a school of fish in the sea, the rioting mass suddenly changes course to try its luck elsewhere. There are about 3,000 protesters at this flashpoint, and the number of soldiers facing them appears minuscule.
The mentality prevalent here is different. For Hamas, casualties represent success. The blinking ambulance lights illuminate a collective loss of sanity. In the Western world, ambulances save lives, but on the other side of the fence, Hamas unscrupulously uses children and often the infirm, sending them charging toward the fence. I wonder if there can be hope for a place where ambulances bus sick people to the fence, instead of to hospitals.