During his visit to France, IDF spokesman Ronen Manelis called on members of the National Assembly, the lower house of the French Parliament, to not “get suckered in by Hamas,” which is branded a terrorist organization in Israel, the US and the EU.
According to the official, cited by the Times of Israel, billions of Israeli shekels, which are donated from foreign countries, including French taxpayers, to the Gaza Strip, are “diverted to building terror capabilities” by Hamas, which rules the territory.
“This is a militarized terror group in every sense, with a general staff, fighting brigades, operational battalions and attack plans against Israel. This organization has murdered thousands of Israelis, Americans, French citizens and Britons in bus bombings, suicide attacks in malls and restaurants, and stabbing and car-ramming attacks,” he told the lawmakers.
He slammed Hamas as “a murderous terror organization that stops at nothing in its efforts to attack children, women, innocent civilians, including civilians living under its rule.”
During his briefing he stressed that Hamas has turned the Gaza Strip into “the capital of terror, darkness and killing” and chosen not to invest in its own people, which has led to skyrocketing unemployment and other humanitarian problems.
“The residents of Gaza aren’t my enemies. Hamas has taken them hostage,” he stated.
Manelis also defended the IDF’s actions in the recent clashes on the Israeli border, which left more than 100 Palestinians dead and thousands injured as the IDF used anti-riot means and opened fire on protesters to prevent them from breaking through the border fence.
The actions were criticized internationally, and France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, had stated his “condemnation of any form of violence toward civilians and, in particular, these past few weeks in Gaza.”
Speaking to the French lawmakers, however, the representative of the Israeli Army stressed that the events in Gaza have been mistaken as “protests.”
“We have unequivocal intelligence information according to which they planned to kill and kidnap,” he said to the MPs and invited them “to come see the IDF’s defense challenge,” according to the Times of Israel.
The Great Return March started on March 30 and officially concluded on May 15 to commemorate the Nakba, or Israeli Independence Day, in which 750,000 Palestinians were removed from their homeland to make way for Israelis. However, demonstrations remain ongoing. On May 14, the day the US Embassy was opened in Jerusalem, Israeli forces killed 60 people.