International investigations into the deaths of Palestinians during violent clashes along the Gaza border serve “terrorists,” former defense minister Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe “Boogie” Ya’alon told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
“International investigations play into the hands of terrorists,” Ya’alon said after the United States blocked a UN Security Council statement calling for an independent probe into the deadly violence which left more than 60 Palestinians dead on Monday.
The call for the independent investigations was supported by the United Kingdom and Germany.
“It is our view that an independent investigation commission can clarify the violent incidents and the bloody violations at the border area,” German government spokesman Steffen Seibert was quoted as saying.
Alistair Burt, a minister at the British Foreign Office responsible for Middle East affairs, said while his government “understands why Israel would seek to protect its border,” it should show “greater restraint” in the use of live fire. He added that the inquiry should look into why so much force was used against the demonstrators.
Ya’alon called the demonstrations a “manipulation” by Hamas, which uses them to send members of their Nukhba force to carry out attacks against Israeli troops and civilians. He stressed that Israel has not occupied the Hamas-run enclave since Israel’s unilateral disengagement in 2005.
“We don’t send our soldiers into Gaza, Hamas has to be blamed for sending their people to the fence. The international community has to blame them,” he said, adding, “We don’t want to kill any Palestinians, and the IDF commanders in the field know that any death on the other side doesn’t serve our interests.”
Palestinian Islamic Jihad said on Tuesday that three of the people killed Monday were members of the Iranian-backed terrorist group.
Then on Wednesday, Hamas official Salah Bardawil told the Palestinian Baladna news outlet that another 50 were members of Hamas.
“We are not talking about demonstrations. We are talking about Hamas using these demonstrations for terrorism, to send their Nukhba forces to fire at troops and try to kidnap soldiers,” Ya’alon said.
While the clashes along the Gaza border did not spill over into the West Bank, he warned that Israel should be ready for all scenarios in the coming weeks.
“In the past we had waves of hostilities [in the West Bank] and we should be ready for that. It would serving their interest to put the Palestinian issue back into the international discourse,” he said.
Ya’alon then spoke of Iran – which launched more than 20 rockets into northern Israel from Syria last week – saying it has not been able to use Palestinian proxies such as Hamas or Islamic Jihad to carry out attacks along the Gaza border or in the West Bank because of Israel’s “superior intelligence.”
Israel’s intelligence community has succeeded in developing capabilities that have given it the upper hand over its enemies and played a “crucial” role in deterring Iran, he said.
“What we have in Tehran is a rogue regime which is the main instigator for instability in the Middle East whose intention to challenge Israel. We share no border with Iran but they call to wipe us off the map,” Ya’alon said, stressing that Israel will not allow Iran to threaten it with the missiles and air defense systems that have been brought into Syria.
“We don’t threaten Iran. We don’t deploy troops on the Iranian border, but they try to provoke us with proxies. The launching of the rockets and the UAV with explosives they sent in February should have made them learn their lesson that we have superior intelligence. They are transparent.”
Asked if it was time for Israel to openly discuss regional cooperation with Arab countries, Ya’alon said Sunni Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia now understand they are fighting the same enemy as Israel, as Iran’s goal of establishing regional hegemony is undermining governments throughout the Middle East.
“And of course we are the same side of fighting Muslim Brotherhood led by [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and jihadist elements,” he said. “There is room for cooperation but normalization is up to them. We are ready when they are ready.”