Israel parliament speaker accuses Hamas over Gaza deaths

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The speaker of Israel's parliament told French lawmakers on Wednesday that Hamas was to blame for the deaths of dozens of Palestinians along its border with Gaza this week.

"We've been warned for years that Hamas has been planning this kind of attack on the border in order to execute terror activities under the convenient surroundings of manifestations or demonstrations," Yuli Edelstein said during a two-day visit to France.

"Many were armed; landmines and explosives were planted along the border," he told the French parliament's foreign affairs committee.

"Right now Israeli soldiers are working on dismantling bombs right on the border," he said.

Israel has come under intense international pressure over the deaths in Gaza, after tens of thousands of Palestinians had gathered near the border while smaller numbers of people approached the fence and sought to break through.

Edelstein said the protests were "not at all linked" to anger over the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, in wide defiance of its European allies.

"Hamas is not just telling people to go out and demonstrate," Edelstein said. "They are openly saying, 'You have to march to Tel Aviv, and Haifa and Jerusalem'."

"We want quiet on the border, and the last thing Hamas wants there is quiet," he claimed.

© 2018 AFP

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