Dr. Kobi Michael, senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University and former deputy director general and head of the Palestinian desk at the Ministry for Strategic Affairs, has given his take on the event.
Sputnik: What aims do the Palestinians hope to achieve by holding this event?
Dr. Kobi Michael: What we see here, in a paradoxical manner, is a sort of articulation or reflection of a very successful Israeli deterrence, because Hamas, which is behind this march actually understood that they have lost the efficiency and effectiveness of their rockets and the missiles due to the defense systems that Israel has developed.
The terror tunnels, on the attacking tunnels, are inefficient as well, because Israel is already [establishing] new facilities along the borders that will destroy all the tunnels.
They have no other military capacities for the time being and they have to develop such a capacity. For the time being, they ride the back of the tiger when they actually took the responsibility for the organization of this march, or "non-violent protest."
I think that Hamas is trying to build a sort of attention towards the Nakba Day. I am not sure that they have an interest that too many Palestinians will be wounded or killed, but they will not feel very sorry about it, because in a very cynical manner, it plays into their hands – at least this is what they think.
Trying to shape the image in the international media and international community; Israel plays with some constraints and uses violence only when people are getting to the fence itself. There is a security perimeter approximately 100 meters wide and people are not allowed to cross into the security perimeter, and once they are in there, then the IDF reacts.
Sputnik: What’s the Israeli stance on what this march is commemorating?
Dr. Kobi Michael: Most of Israelis understand that this is an outcome of a very, very deep frustration among the Palestinians. Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] is actually in his last stage.
The American administration, with the ultimate deal, changed the rules of the game. The European continent, and mainly the EU, is almost an irrelevant as a player. The Arab world is not with the Palestinians – we saw what has happened with the Saudis, the Egyptians as well as the Jordanians. They support the American administration and they support in this way or another the American plan. <…>
Sputnik: Are there reports now of people having crossed the fence, of the protesters using violence?
Dr. Kobi Michael: Nobody has succeeded in crossing the fence itself. This is the reason that the IDF is deployed there with large capacities, with many, many soldiers and equipment. Israel and the IDF won’t allow a single Palestinian to cross the border and to enter the sovereign territory of the state of Israel and I think that Israel has declared publicly in a very strict and clear manner: as long as the protest is non-violent and as long as it is conducted as Hamas promised, then they can protest, they can demonstrate and they can do whatever they want – it is their territory and they have the freedom of movement.