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Israel hits Gaza again in response to arson kites

AFP , Monday 16 Jul 2018
Palestinian youths and children demonstrate with Palestinian flags in Gaza City on July 15, 2018 outside a building that was struck by an Israeli air raid the day before. (Photo:AFP)
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An Israeli aircraft hit two Hamas posts in the Gaza Strip on Monday in response to balloons carrying firebombs over the border fence to burn Israeli farmland, the occupying army said.

The strikes signalled a tougher Israeli response to the hundreds of balloons and kites carrying firebombs that have been launched from the Gaza Strip since April.

Gazan security sources and residents said the strikes occurred in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip and caused no injuries.

Israel's occupying army said the strikes targeted an area near where arson balloons were launched.

A spokesman for Israel's fire service said four fires had been started inside Israel on Monday due to the firebombs.

That was significantly less than the average of around 24 per day that had been occurring recently, said fire service spokesman Eli Cohen.

The strikes came after the heaviest exchange of fire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza since a 2014 offensive on Saturday.

Israel hit dozens of sites it said belonged to militants in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, killing two Palestinian teenagers, while around 200 rockets and mortars were fired at Israel from the Hamas-run enclave.

Hamas announced a ceasefire late Saturday, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the kite fires must stop.

Palestinians in Gaza have for months been demonstrating against Israel's decade-long blockade of the territory and in support of their right to return to lands they fled or were driven from during the war surrounding the creation of Israel in 1948.

In the wake of the ‘Great March of Return’ demonstrations, which started on 30 March, Gaza’s already overstretched health sector has been struggling to cope with the mass influx of casualties.

At least 140 Palestinians have been killed and thousands injured by Israeli occupation forces during the protests near the border with Israel.

Israel has maintained a crippling blockade on Gaza which it argues is necessary to isolate Hamas.

The blockade is worsening humanitarian conditions in Gaza, which human rights advocates have described as collective punishment of the Palestinians living in the strip.

The Gaza Strip faces an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, caused by over 10 years of Israeli blockade, alongside an internal Palestinian divide, which worsened in 2017, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

*This story was edited by Ahram Online.

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