Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's spokesman has accused Palestinian women protesting in Gaza of being affiliated to Daesh, in a renewed bid to smear demonstrators participating in the Great March of Return.
Ofir Gendelman, the prime minister's spokesman for Arab media, tweeted a picture of veiled women holding Palestinian flags this weekend, alleging they were members of Daesh, claiming this was evidence that Gaza Strip authority Hamas was also part of the terror group in Iraq and Syria.
ISIS women also participate today in the Hamas' led riots on the Gaza border. That's no surprise because Hamas IS the Gazan branch of ISIS.
— Ofir Gendelman (@ofirgendelman) March 30, 2019
The tweet was condemned by various journalists, who pointed out that Daesh consider the Palestinian flag to be blasphemous, and so there was no evidence that they had any relation to militants abroad.
In a conversation with the Telegraph's Middle East correspondent Raf Sanchez, Gendelman confirmed that the only evidence he had for linking the women to Daesh, was the fact that they were wearing face veils, prompting some to accuse him of Islamophobia.
I asked Netanyahu's spokesman about this tweet.
We went back and forth – and people can judge for themselves – but it feels to me like he made the accusation these women were in ISIS solely on the basis of them wearing the niqab. pic.twitter.com/KYKxxiyemd
— Raf Sanchez (@rafsanchez) April 1, 2019
Thousands of Palestinians protested on the Gaza fence with Israel on Saturday, marking a year since the start of the Great March of Return. Four people were killed, three of whom were just 17 years old, and hundreds were injured when Israeli occupation forces responded violently to the demonstrations, firing at civilians and launching tear gas at crowds.
Those wounded included 86 children, 29 women, three paramedics and seven journalists.
Demonstrators demand the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in historical Palestine from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.
They also demand an end to Israel's 12-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has gutted the coastal enclave's economy and deprived its roughly two million inhabitants of many basic commodities.