(JTA) — Israeli fighter jets struck five Hamas targets in a military training facility in northern Gaza.
The attacks came Monday during the dedication of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. The strikes were in response to violence that occurred in mass protests along the Gaza border, according to a statement issued Monday by the Israel Defense Forces.
The protests, which opposed the embassy dedication, saw at least 50 Palestinians killed and hundreds injured in clashes with Israeli forces. Tens of thousands of Palestinian protesters massed on the border as part of the March of Return, a string of demonstrations against Israel that have taken place every Friday at the border for the past seven weeks.
Earlier on Monday, an Israeli fighter jet and a tank targeted two other Hamas positions in northern Gaza following Hamas fire on nearby Israeli troops, the IDF said.
On Monday afternoon, an IDF force foiled the placing of an explosive charge near the border fence by a squad of three armed Palestinians in southern Gaza.
In a statement, IDF Spokesman Ronen Manlis called the protests a “cover for organized terrorist activity and an attempt to divert the energy directed at it from the Gaza Strip into Israel.” The statement said the IDF is prepared to respond to a wide variety of scenarios and has deployed a number of combat battalions along the Gaza border, along with special units, intelligence gathering forces and snipers.
“Our forces do not fire at demonstrators who have come to express their position on the Gaza Strip,” he said. “The action is focused on those who carry out terrorist activities against the security infrastructure.”