Israel strikes Gaza after Hamas launches more incendiary balloons

Second air strikes since ceasefire ended last month's hostilities

Israel strikes Gaza for second time since May ceasefire

Israel strikes Gaza for second time since May ceasefire
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Israel launched air strikes on the Gaza Strip late on Thursday for a second time since a shaky ceasefire ended last month's 11-day war.

The strikes came after activists organised by the territory’s militant Hamas rulers launching incendiary balloons into Israel for a third straight day.

There were no immediate reports of casualties from the strikes, which were reported by local media and could be heard from Gaza City.

Israel also carried out air strikes early on Wednesday, hitting what it is said were Hamas sites, without killing or wounding anyone.

Earlier, Israeli police used stun grenades and a water cannon spraying skunk water to disperse Palestinian protesters from Damascus Gate in East Jerusalem.

The Old City was the centre of weeks of protests and clashes with police in the run-up to the Gaza war.

After the crowds were dispersed, Palestinians threw rocks and water bottles at ultra-Orthodox Jews walking in the area.

Calls had circulated for protesters to gather at Damascus Gate in response to a rally held there by Jewish ultra-nationalists on Tuesday, in which dozens of Israelis had chanted “Death to Arabs” and “May your village burn.”

Police forcibly cleared the square and provided security for that rally, which was part of a parade to celebrate Israel’s conquest of East Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, a Palestinian teenager died on Thursday after being shot by Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank during a protest against a settlement outpost.

The teen was the fourth demonstrator to be killed since the outpost was established last month.

The Israeli military said on Wednesday that a soldier stationed near the outpost in the West Bank saw a group of Palestinians approaching, and that one “hurled a suspicious object at him, which exploded adjacent to the soldier".

The army said the soldier fired in the air, then shot the Palestinian who threw the object.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said Thursday that Ahmad Shamsa, 15, died of a gunshot wound sustained a day earlier.

Settlers established the outpost, which they refer to as Eviatar, near the northern West Bank town of Nablus last month and say it is now home to dozens of families.

Palestinians say it is built on private land and fear it will grow and merge with other large settlements near by.

Nearly 500,000 Jewish settlers live in about 130 settlements across the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinians and much of the international community view the settlements as in breach of international law and a major obstacle to peace.

Israeli authorities have evacuated the outpost on several occasions.

They appear reluctant to do so this time because it would embarrass Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and other right-wing members of the fragile government sworn in over the weekend.

Palestinians from the nearby village of Beita have held several protests in which demonstrators have hurled stones and Israeli troops have fired tear gas and live ammunition.

Four Palestinians have been killed since mid-May, including Ahmad and another teenager.

The Israeli military also shot and killed a Palestinian woman on Wednesday, saying she had tried to ram her car into a group of soldiers guarding a West Bank construction site.

The army claimed soldiers fired at the woman in Hizmeh, just north of Jerusalem, after she left the car and pulled out a knife.

It did not say how close the woman was to the soldiers, and the army did not release any photos or video.

The family of Mai Afaneh insisted she had no reason or ability to carry out an attack.

In recent years, Israel has had shootings, stabbings and car-ramming attacks against its soldiers and civilians in the occupied West Bank.

Most have been carried out by Palestinians with no apparent links to organised militant groups.

Palestinians and Israeli human rights groups say the soldiers often use excessive force and could have stopped some assailants without killing them.

In some cases, they say that innocent people have been identified as attackers and shot.

The Palestinians seek the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority exerts limited self-rule in population centres, as part of a future state along with the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

Israel captured all three territories in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and says Jerusalem is indivisible.

There have been no substantial peace talks in more than a decade.