Israel attacks Gaza with drone strikes amid border protests
The Israeli military carried out drone strikes late on Friday on what it alleges are three Hamas targets in the besieged Gaza Strip, where protesters have had confrontations for several days with Israeli forces along the separation fence.
According to the The New Arab’s sister publication Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, the Israeli drone fired several missiles targeting a Hamas outpost on the eastern border of Gaza City.
The aircraft also allegedly struck an outpost belonging to the movement in the eastern part of the Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip.
The Israeli military also confirmed it targeted a third site with shells fired from a tank, while there were reports from the Maghazi refugee camp of drones firing tear gas and stun grenades on the heavily populated area.
At least 22 Palestinians were injured due to the Israeli drone strikes and attacks on demonstration sites at the separation fence on Friday, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza.
The strikes were allegedly Israel’s response to incendiary balloons launched earlier on Friday from Gaza towards Israel for the first time in two years. The balloons resulted in four fires in Israeli settlements, with five acres of vegetation being burned, according to the Jewish National Fund.
Israeli 'collective punishment'
The balloons were launched after a week of protests after Israel shut the Beit Hanouna crossing with Gaza last week in advance of the Jewish Rosh Hashanah holiday.
This prevented thousands of Palestinian workers from getting to their jobs in Israel and the West Bank, leading to protests. Israel then extended the closure, intensifying the protests.
Demonstrators along the Gaza separation fence have hurled stones as well as improvised explosive devices, while Israeli forces have attacked with tear gas and live fire, leading to one Palestinian being killed and at least 88 others being injured.
Around 18,500 Palestinians in Gaza have permits from Israeli authorities to work outside the enclave, providing a vital injection of cash amounting to around $2 million a day to the impoverished territory’s economy.
The closure of the crossing has been condemned by the Israel NGO Gisha as an act of “collective punishment” by the Israeli government against Gaza, which has been under Israeli siege for 16 years.