The Israeli army has said it carried out air attacks against Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip on Sunday in response to rocket attacks and firebombs sent into Israeli territory attached to balloons.
The raids come after clashes broke out on Saturday evening along the Gaza-Israeli border, the army said.
The Israeli army said dozens of Palestinian “rioters burned tyres, hurled explosive devices and grenades towards the security fence and attempted to approach it”.
Over the past week, Israeli forces have carried out repeated night-time attacks on targets linked to Hamas, the group that governs the Gaza Strip.
Earlier tonight, rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel.
In response, our Air Force just struck Hamas terror targets in Gaza, including a military compound used to store rocket ammunition.
We will continue to operate against any attempts to harm Israeli civilians.
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) August 16, 2020
The army said that among the targets hit were “a military compound and underground infrastructure” belonging to Hamas.
Early on Sunday, the Israeli army also said two rockets had been fired into Israel from Gaza and intercepted by its Iron Dome defence system.
“These aggressive policies aim to exacerbate the crises our people in Gaza are enduring to paralyse their daily life and to disrupt the efforts of combating coronavirus amid international and regional silence,” Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesperson for Hamas, said in a statement earlier this week.
Israel has closed the Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) goods crossing with the Gaza Strip.
Following Saturday’s clashes and rocket-fire, Israel’s military decided “to entirely shut down the fishing zone of the Gaza Strip, immediately and until further notice, starting this morning [Sunday],” a military statement said.
The Palestinian territory has been under an Israeli blockade since 2007. Israel cites security threats from Hamas for its land and naval blockade.
The Gaza Strip has a population of two million, more than half of whom live in poverty, according to the World Bank.
Despite a truce last year backed by the United Nations, Egypt and Qatar, the two sides clash sporadically with rockets, mortar fire or incendiary balloons.
Hamas has accused Israel of not fully complying with the deal. Israel, which deems Hamas a “terrorist” organisation, shuns direct negotiations and has never publicly acknowledged the truce.
On Wednesday, Israel reduced the area where it permits Palestinians to fish from 24km (15 miles) to 13km (eight miles), calling it a response to the balloon launches.
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