Israel bombs Hamas sites in Gaza over incendiary balloons, says military

Gaza militants have sporadically sent balloons into Israel

A fireball rises following an air strike in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on August 23. AFP
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Israeli warplanes bombed Hamas sites in Gaza in response to incendiary balloons launched from the Palestinian enclave that caused brush fires in southern Israel, its military said early on Tuesday.

There were no immediate reports of casualties in the air strikes that targeted what the military said was a weapons production facility and a rocket launch site belonging to Hamas, the Islamist group that rules Gaza.

In the occupied West Bank, officials said a Palestinian teen was killed in a clash with the Israeli military.

Palestinian authorities said the 15-year-old boy died after being shot in the head during clashes with soldiers in the city of Nablus. The Israeli military said soldiers were carrying out an arrest raid in the Balata refugee camp when they came under fire from nearby rooftops.

The military said large stone blocks were thrown at the troops, and that soldiers opened fire at a person they said was about to drop a large object on them. It was unclear whether the teen, identified as Imad Hashash, was the same person.

Since an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire halted 11 days of Israel-Hamas fighting in May, Gaza militants have sporadically sent balloons carrying incendiary material into Israel, drawing Israeli strikes on Hamas facilities.

People walk past the rubble of the 12-storey al-Jalaa building in Gaza city that housed the Associated Press bureau in Gaza City that was destroyed in an Israeli air-strike in the 11-day war between Gaza's Hamas rulers and Israel.  AP

Palestinians say the balloons are aimed at pressing Israel to ease restrictions on Gaza and allow aid to reach the territory. Balloons launched on Monday set off fires in Israeli fields along the Gaza border, Israel's Fire and Rescue Service said.

Cross-border violence has spiked despite an Israeli announcement last week of a resumption of Qatari aid to Gaza, a decision that had been seen as bolstering the fragile truce.

Confronting Gaza protesters burning tyres and throwing explosives along the border on Saturday, Israeli troops shot and wounded 41 Palestinians, critically injuring two, medics said. Palestinian gunfire seriously wounded an Israeli soldier, the military said.

Days before Saturday's violence, Gaza militants launched a rocket towards Israel that was shot down by its Iron Dome anti-missile system, in the first such attack since the May 21 ceasefire.

More than 250 Palestinians and 13 in Israel were killed in the May conflict, during which Gaza militants fired rockets towards Israeli cities and Israel carried out air strikes across the coastal enclave.

Israel keeps Gaza under blockade, tightly restricting movement out of the territory that is home to two million Palestinians. Egypt also maintains restrictions on the enclave. Both cite threats from Hamas for the restrictions.

In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry said a 15 year old was killed overnight in a clash with Israeli soldiers.

The Israeli military said its troops came under fire during an arrest raid near the city of Nablus.

A soldier opened fire on a suspect who was about to throw a large object at the forces from a rooftop, the military said, and “identified a hit”. The health ministry said a Palestinian, 15, was killed in the confrontation.

Updated: August 24, 2021, 7:51 AM