Israel strikes Gaza after Hamas fires 'balloon bombs'
(Sourced from PTI)
Israel has launched airstrikes on the Gaza Strip for a second time since a shaky ceasefire ended last month's 11-day war. The strikes came late Thursday after activists mobilized by Gaza's militant Hamas rulers launched incendiary balloons into Israel for a third straight day. There were no immediate reports of casualties from the strikes, which could be heard from Gaza City.
Israel also carried out airstrikes early Wednesday, targeting what it is said were Hamas facilities, without killing or wounding anyone. The military said fighter jets struck Hamas military compounds and a rocket launch site. It said its forces were preparing for a variety of scenarios including a resumption of hostilities. Notably, tensions have remained high since the ceasefire between the two.
Israel and Hamas have fought four wars and countless smaller skirmishes since the Islamic militant group seized power from rival Palestinian forces in 2007. Israel and Egypt have imposed a crippling blockade on Gaza, home to more than two million Palestinians, since Hamas took over.
Earlier, Israeli police used stun grenades and a water cannon spraying skunk water to disperse Palestinian protesters from Damascus Gate in east Jerusalem, the epicenter of weeks of protests and clashes in the run-up to the Gaza war. After the crowds were dispersed, Palestinians could be seen throwing 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 ultranationalists on Tuesday in which dozens of Israelis had chanted "Death to Arabs" and "May your village burn." The police had forcibly cleared the square and provided security for that rally, part of a parade to celebrate Israel's conquest of East Jerusalem.
In a separate incident, 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 fourth demonstrator to be killed since the outpost was established last month. The Israeli military said on Wednesday that a soldier near the wildcat outpost in the West Bank saw a group of Palestinians approaching.
One of them hurled a suspicious object at the soldier, which exploded near him. The army said that the soldier fired in the air, then shot the Palestinian who threw it. The Palestinian Health Ministry said that Ahmad Shamsa, 15, died of a gunshot wound.
Settlers established the outpost, Eviatar, in the northern West Bank town of Nablus last month and say it is home to dozens of families. Palestinians fear it will grow and merge with other settlements nearby. Nearly 5,00,000 Jewish settlers live in some 130 settlements across the occupied West Bank which are viewed as a violation of international law and a major obstacle to peace.