Israeli tanks pound Gaza as clashes over incendiary balloons continue

Israeli tanks pound Gaza as clashes over incendiary balloons continue
Israeli tanks have struck alleged Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip as clashes continue after the launch of incendiary balloons towards Israel by Palestinian militiants.
2 min read
Israeli tanks have bombed Gaza [Getty]

Israeli tanks pounded Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip early on Monday in what has become a daily event over the past week.

The Israeli army says that its attacks on the besieged Palestinian enclave are in response to Palestinian rockets and airborne firebombs launched into southern Israel and to clashes on the border.

"Tanks targeted a number of military observation posts belonging to the Hamas terror organisation in the Gaza Strip," an Israeli army statement said in English, referring to the Palestinian group that controls Gaza.

The army said that in addition to cross-border attacks with explosives and incendiary devices suspended from balloons, dozens of people had also "instigated riots along the Gaza Strip security fence" on Sunday evening.

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There were no immediate reports of casualties from the Israeli tank fire.

The latest incidents follow a week of heightened tensions, including border clashes, during which Israel has also closed its Kerem Shalom goods crossing with the Gaza Strip.

On Sunday Israel blockaded Gaza's permitted coastal fishing zone, denying Palestinian fishermen their means of livelihood.

Israeli fire services in the border areas reported 28 outdoor fires on Sunday, and farmers said that extensive damage was caused to an avocado orchard.

A statement on Sunday evening said that since August 6 its investigators had identified 149 fires in southern Israel caused by incendiary balloons from Gaza.

On Saturday evening Palestinian "rioters burned tyres, hurled explosive devices and grenades towards the security fence and attempted to approach it," an Israeli army statement said.

The Palestinian Red Crescent also reported on Saturday that a pregnant woman and a three-year-old child were injured in Israeli strikes and taken to hospital.

That was followed on Sunday by further Israeli air strikes on Hamas positions, including what Israel said was "a military compound used to store rocket ammunition".

Despite a truce last year backed by the UN, Egypt and Qatar, the two sides clash sporadically with rockets, mortar fire or incendiary balloons.

The Gaza Strip has a population of two million, more than half of whom live in poverty, according to the World Bank. Israel has imposed a crippling siege on the Palestinian territory since 2007, when Hamas took control of it after a conflict with the rival Palestinian movement Fatah.

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