On February 23rd, 2019, a 15 year-old Palestinian, Yusef al-Daya, was shot in the chest at a weekly event called the March of Return. The event is held every Friday at the Gaza border. Al-Daya was rushed to a local hospital where he was resuscitated but a short time later, succumbed to his wound.

Prominent media outlets such as Reuters stated; “Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian teen.” The article makes no mention of important facts about al-Daya and what he was doing at the security fence.

This is a common framing of the “protests” at the security fence, which portray the participants as civilians and highlight people under 18 (“children”) killed. The death received considerable media attention, and came not long before the UN Human Rights Council issued a report condemning Israeli killings of “civilians” at the Gaza security fence.

Al-Daya wasn’t just a civilian protesting, he was a member of the Palestinian Mujahideen Movement who have a military wing called Mujahideen Brigades.

They are a small militant group but resemble other groups such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Several members of the Mujahideen Movement have been killed by the IDF in March of Return related activity over the last year. Some were killed at the Gaza border as they participated in riots and others were killed preparing to launch rockets during a flare in violence resulting from the March of Return.

Al-Daya’s membership in the Palestinian Mujahideen Movement wasn’t his only affiliation with a militant group. Al-Daya was also a member of a militant-lead border unit called Koshuk, who is primarily responsible for the destruction of the Gaza security fence, infiltrations into Israel and the use of explosives.

Another issue rarely mentioned in the media is the young age of many Palestinians active in these militant-lead border units. There are many examples where it is clear children are active at the security fence and are in grave danger of being injured or killed.

Another such example is a 16 year-old named Saeed Abu Al-Khair. He was killed last Spring at the Gaza border. He was involved in Koshuk Unit activities. Also, he was an al-Qassam Brigades cub. These are teens who are not old enough to be militants but receive military training before joining Hamas’ military wing.

There are many more examples of militant activity under the guise of civilian protests at the Gaza border. I go into detail about it in my GroundBrief newsletter along with other information regarding news events in the Middle East.

Gaza’s March of Return is about to turn a year old and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. I fully expect the Gaza border to heat up as Spring draws near. Expect destruction of the security fence, militant operations and infiltrations into Israel.

Joe Truzman

 

 
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