What is happening at the Israel-Gaza border? Here is a comprehensive “questions and answers” section from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), giving a full overview of the situation. 

Updated to: 1 February 2019 (for the latest information click here)

Since 30 March 2018, Israel has been contending with ongoing violent attempts by masses of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip – civilians and operatives – to sabotage and destroy Israel’s defensive security infrastructure along its border with Gaza, penetrate Israel’s territory, harm Israeli security forces, and overrun Israeli civilian areas and harm Israeli civilians (the “Gaza border events”). While these events are part of a broader armed conflict with Israel, which has included throughout 2018 direct attacks, rockets, mortar shells and more, the following will focus on the mass events occurring at the border.

These border events have been primarily organized and led by Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization that controls the entirety of the Gaza Strip. Hamas has been waging an ongoing armed conflict against Israel using various means to penetrate into Israeli territory and attack both Israeli security forces and the civilian population. Over the years, these means have included suicide bombings in Israeli population centers, tens of thousands of rockets and mortars launched from Gaza into Israel, cross-border assault tunnels reaching from Gaza into Israel, and various cross-border attacks such as anti-tank fire, machine gun fire, above-ground infiltration by terrorist cells and the placing of explosives along the security infrastructure.

The following Questions and Answers are intended to provide information regarding the nature of the events and the IDF’s response to these events. The following publication is updated as of 1 February 2019. For a PDF version of this information, see here.

The IDF’s assessments as stated in this publication are based, amongst other things, on intelligence and operational analysis. Naturally, intelligence information obtained by Israel prior to and during the events is mostly classified, and cannot be published for reasons of national security. This is especially considering that these events are ongoing, and occur within the context of an armed conflict and active hostilities waged by Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza against Israel. Thus, not all of the information and knowledge that Israel possesses regarding these events appear in this publication, and the following cannot be considered as exhaustive. For the purposes of this publication, the IDF has endeavored to include public sources which give expression and support to these assessments.

Note: the following refers to the ‘border’ between Gaza and Israel for ease of reference only, and should not be taken as an expression of Israel’s position regarding the location of any international boundary.

Click the links to find out more

The Gaza Border Events – General Background

  • What happened in the past year between the Gaza Strip and Israel?
  • What are the Gaza border events?
  • What is the Gaza-Israel border area?
  • What security infrastructure has Israel established on the border with Gaza?
  • How did Hamas organize these events?
  • When do these events occur and for how long have they continued?
  • Where on the Gaza border did these events occur?

Hamas’s Aims

  • What were the publicly stated aims of the Gaza border events?
  • What were Hamas’s true aims?
  • How did Hamas intend to achieve these aims?
  • Why has Hamas not stated its true aims publicly?
  • On what basis does Israel say that these were Hamas’s aims?
  • Does Hamas have the necessary control over the events in order to achieve its aims?
  • Is there evidence of success by Hamas in fulfilling its aims?

Threat to Israel

  • What is the threat posed in general?
  • What is the threat to Israeli civilian communities and infrastructure in the vicinity of the Gaza border?
  • What is the threat to Israel beyond the vicinity of the Gaza border?
  • What is the threat to soldiers and military infrastructure defending the border?

How the Riots Unfold

  • How does a day of the border events typically progress?
  • How have the nature of these events changed over the months?

Connection of the Gaza Border Events to Other Events in Gaza

  • Are actions in the vicinity of the focal sites related to actions occurring at other points on the border?
  • Are the border events related to other attacks from Gaza, such as rocket and mortar fire?

Israel’s Preparations

  • What are Israel’s aims in the face of these events?
  • What steps did Israel take to try and prevent the threats posed by these events?
  • How did the IDF prepare for the events?

The IDF’s Operational Response

  • How does the IDF regulate the use of force?
  • Why has the IDF not published the Standard Operating Procedures?
  • What are the Standard Operating Procedures applicable in the Gaza border events?
  • Have the Standard Operating Procedures undergone legal review?
  • Have the Standard Operating Procedures been amended during the events?
  • What are some of the challenges the IDF has faced in implementing these Standard Operating Procedures?
  • Has the IDF’s conduct changed during the events?

IDF Use of Non-Lethal Means

  • How does the IDF use non-lethal means during these events?
  • Why hasn’t the IDF used only tear gas to disperse the violent riots and contend with the threats they pose?
  • Has the IDF tried other non-lethal means besides tear gas?
  • Has the IDF tried to acquire or develop new non-lethal means?

IDF Use of Potentially Lethal Force

  • In what situations may IDF forces resort to live ammunition?
  • How is this implemented in practice?
  • Who is a “key instigator” or a “key rioter”?
  • In what circumstances is a threat considered real and imminent according to the Standard Operating Procedures?
  • How does the IDF regulate the use of live ammunition?
  • What ammunition does the IDF use?
  • Why doesn’t Israel use Border or Riot Police instead of the IDF forces stationed on the Gaza border?
  • Why can’t Israel allow people to breach the security infrastructure and arrest them once inside Israeli territory?
  • Why didn’t Israel build a bigger and stronger fence to withstand sabotage and attacks?

Investigation of Allegations of Misconduct

  • Are allegations or suspicions of misconduct investigated?
  • What is the mechanism for investigation such allegations or suspicions?
  • How does the FFA Mechanism conduct its examinations into the Gaza border events?
  • What challenges has the FFA Mechanism faced in its examinations of the Gaza border events?
  • What happens to the FFA Mechanism’s findings and materials?
  • Is the Military Advocate General’s decision final?

Outcomes of the Gaza Border Events

  • What has been the outcome of these events in Israel?
  • How many Palestinians have been harmed as a result of the events?
  • Why on some dates there appear to be many wounded by live ammunition, and on other days less?
  • Why are amongst the harmed some journalists, medical personnel, first aid volunteers, women and minors?



All of the above information comes from the IDF website, for the latest information and developments at the Gaza border, click here.