Israeli airstrike kills one in Gaza Strip

Israeli military confirmed the strike, saying the men were launching balloons across the border

An Israeli soldier attempts to extinguish a fire in a forest field near the Kibbutz of Nahal Oz, along the border with the Gaza Strip, on July 17 after it was caused by inflammable material attached to a balloon flown by Palestinian protesters from across the border.  / AFP / MENAHEM KAHANA
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An Israeli air strike on Thursday reportedly killed a member of Hamas' military wing and wounded two others, Hams sources said.

The Israeli military confirmed to AFP that it had carried out the air strike, saying the men were about to launch flammable balloons over the border into Israel.

Hamas, which controls the blockaded strip, later confirmed that the man was a member of a special unit tasked with securing the border but did not elaborate as to whether he was launching an incendiary device.

Fire caused by incendiary helium balloons, kites or inflated condoms launched from Palestine into Gaza have ravaged farmland in recent months.

Israel vowed to stop the attacks, even at risk of wider conflict. They have become a recent defining feature of months of protests in which dozens of Palestinians have been killed by Israelis.

More than 130 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since protests took place at the border in March. No Israelis have been killed.

Cross-border violence surged on Saturday in an exchange of fire including dozens of airstrikes from Israel, and rockets fired across the border from Palestine.