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Israel sends tanks, troops to Gaza border amid new protests

By Nicholas Sakelaris
Israel sends tanks, troops to Gaza border amid new protests
Palestinian security inspects debris following an Israeli airstrike in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah on Wednesday. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 19 (UPI) -- The Israeli government sent heavy tanks and troops to the Gaza border Friday, anticipating new Palestinian protests.

The Israeli Broadcasting Authority reported large numbers of soldiers moved south to the border area.

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The Israel Defense Forces, under the direction of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has presented a plan where it will react to what happens at the border, only using violence if terrorists attack Israel.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said he wants a stern response against Hamas, which Israeli officials blame for a number of attacks in recent months.

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United Nations Special Coordinator for Middle East Peace Nickolay Mladenov pleaded with both sides to refrain from violence. He told the U.N. Security Council the situation in Gaza is "imploding."

"We remain on the brink of another potentially devastating conflict, a conflict that nobody claims to want, but a conflict that needs much more than just words to be prevented," Mladenov said.

"Hamas and other militant groups must immediately and effectively stop all provocations. Israel must restore the delivery of critical supplies to Gaza and improve the movement and access of goods and people [and] exercise restraint in the use of live ammunition."

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Israel's security council met this week to discuss rocket attacks, protests at the border and Palestinians' use of balloons attached to incendiary devices. The results of the meeting were confidential.

"I do not refer to the content of the cabinet discussions, but I can say one thing very explicitly--The rules of the game are about to change. We will no longer accept the arson terror and the fence terror," Israeli Housing Minister Yoav Gallant said.

Palestinian demonstrators have protested at the border since March, demanding to return to the homes and villages that Israel claimed upon it was established in 1948. The clashes have been violent at times, with 200 Palestinians killed and thousands injured by Israeli troops.

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Palestinians also want Israel to end the 12-year blockade that prevents goods and supplies from reaching the Gaza Strip.

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