A senior official of Hamas’ political bureau claimed during a TV interview on Wednesday that 50 of the Gazans killed in Monday’s clashes with Israeli troops were part of the terror group.
Salar al-Bardaweel confirmed during the interview that the militant group was sending its people to die in the protests, the Times of Israel reported.
“In the last round [of demonstrations] 62 people were martyred; 50 of them are from Hamas and 12 from the people,” al-Bardaweel replied, adding: “I am telling you, these are official numbers.”
Senior Hamas official sets the record straight on who was killed in last Hamas-orchestrated riots: "50 of the 62 martyrs were Hamas". Take his word for it. This was no peaceful protest. pic.twitter.com/oop2y3oWrB
— Jonathan Conricus (@LTCJonathan) May 16, 2018
Israel officials consider al-Bardaweel’s comment as strong support to their position that the demonstrations at the Gaza border were directed by Hamas. Conversely, protestors claimed that Israeli security officials used excessive force against unarmed protesters, causing at least 62 Palestinian deaths.
Israel originally stated that at least 24 people killed in the clashes were members of terror groups, with Hamas earlier in the week naming 10 individuals from the group who were killed.
Hamas spokesman Abdel Latin Quanau told CNN that he could not confirm or deny al-Bardaweel’s numbers, but stated that the many groups represented – including Hamas – intended on a peaceful protest.
“I do not have specific numbers but all the factions have participated in the demonstrations, and they are all being targeted,” Quanau said. “The protests are peaceful and include all political and military factions. The Qassem Brigade, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and all the factions, are a part of the Palestinian people. When the people decided to move, all the people of all the different factions moved with them. And just as [the various factions] pursue military resistance, they also pursue peaceful resistance.”
The protests along the Gaza border grew increasingly violent, with individuals throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at security personnel and creating makeshift bombs along the fence.