Since weekly violent demonstrations began along the Gaza security fence in March 2018, Hamas has insisted that these are popularly organized, peaceful protests. Neither claim is true. A detailed report by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center shows that Hamas carefully established, and tightly controls, the “Supreme National Authority of the Return Marches and Lifting the Siege,” which masquerades as a civic organization coordinating the protests. It has likewise distributed terrorists among masses of peaceful demonstrators:
Hamas . . . determines the nature of the marches and regulates their level of violence, in accordance with its strategy and its changing tactical considerations. It is Hamas that gives the marches their organizational, logistical, political, and media framework, based on the resources at its disposal as the largest and dominant organization in the Gaza Strip. In addition, Hamas operatives are those who are close to the border fence and engage in clashes with the IDF. Among the operatives who died during the marches, Hamas operatives constitute the highest percentage. The Supreme National Authority is composed of the terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip. . . .
The marches are accompanied by a variety of violent actions whose nature and scope occasionally change [according to Hamas’s decrees]: stone throwing; throwing Molotov cocktails, hand grenades, and improvised explosive devices; shooting at IDF forces; damaging the border fence; sabotaging the border crossings; attempting to infiltrate into Israel; and launching kites and balloons equipped with incendiary devices and explosives at Israel.
In addition, special units were established for launching explosive and incendiary balloons, with the goal of causing damage and casualties and harassing the IDF and the civilian population of the western Negev communities at night. The systematic violence in the past year created a volatile and unstable situation that led to seven rounds of escalation, during which about 1,100 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel.