The former commander of Israel's southern front forces has called on the government to reach an agreement with Hamas in order to stop the popular demonstrations near the border in the Gaza Strip, Quds Press has reported. Retired Major General Doron Almog said that he views the demonstrations as a security challenge to Tel Aviv.
In a statement to Israeli Army Radio, Almog warned against a possible escalation in the Gaza Strip and its environs, which could lead to a wider conflict, such as firing missiles by a group that is not controlled by Hamas. Such a conflict, he explained, could extend to the West Bank and thence to escalation in Lebanon and Syria.
"The political leadership in Tel Aviv can [contain this escalation]," the former Israel Defence Forces (IDF) commander pointed out, "through a five or ten year agreement [with Hamas], mediated by Egypt, the Palestinian Authority or the US administration."
It is Almog's belief that Hamas has succeeded in fulfilling many objectives through the Great March of Return demonstrations along the nominal border. The protests have been held every day since 30 March against the continued denial of the Palestinians' legitimate right to return to their land occupied by Israel since 1948 and 1967. Demonstrators are also calling for the Israeli-led siege of the Gaza Strip to be lifted.
Since the beginning of the protests, Israeli soldiers have killed 117 Palestinian men, women and children, and wounded more than 12,000 others. The bodies of six of those killed are being held by the Israelis and have not been registered with the Ministry of Health in Gaza.