Israel strikes Hamas targets in Gaza over continued fire balloon attacks

Elias Hubbard
August 14, 2020

"Explosive balloons continued to be launched from Gaza into Israel today, causing fires on land across southern Israel", the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said on Twitter on Thursday.

It said the strikes were in response to the repeated balloon attacks from across the Gaza border in recent days.

Palestinians in Hamas-ruled Gaza have launched dozens of helium balloons laden with incendiary material in recent days to pressure Israel to ease its blockade of the territory, Reuters reported.

The latest round of hostilities has seen firebombs attached to bunches of balloons floating into Israel, setting scrubland ablaze.

"In response, a short while ago, IDF fighter jets and tanks struck a number of Hamas military targets in the Gaza Strip".

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum has described the measure as a "grave act of aggression" that would deepen Gaza's economic hardship.

A Palestinian security official in Gaza said "an unexploded missile fired by an Israeli plane" had impacted inside the school area and that "explosives engineering teams are working to disarm it".

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum responded, saying that "preventing the entry of fuel and goods is aggressive and risky behavior and Israel will be responsible for its consequences".

Israeli fire services in the south of the country reported 60 fires caused by balloons on Tuesday, and 24 on Wednesday, without recording any casualties.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars and numerous smaller flareups since the Islamic militant group seized control of Gaza in 2007.

Hamas has apparently been increasing tensions due to Qatar ending its monthly cash transfers of millions of US dollars for impoverished Palestinians in Gaza, where unemployment under harsh Hamas military rule is over 50 percent.

Despite a truce a year ago backed by the UN, Egypt and Qatar, the two sides clash sporadically with rockets, mortar fire or incendiary balloons.

Palestinian analysts say cross-border fire from Gaza is often used as a bargaining tool to secure Israel's green light for the delivery of Qatari aid cash into the territory.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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