Israel bombs Hamas sites in Gaza over fire balloons: military

JERUSALEM / GAZA: Israeli aircraft struck Hamas sites in Gaza early on Sunday in response to incendiary balloons purportedly launched from the Palestinian enclave, the military said, as a recent rise in cross-border violence tests a fragile truce that ended fierce fighting in May.

Sanctioned by Hamas, the armed group that rules Gaza, Palestinian groups said on Saturday they were resuming protests at the Israel-Gaza border, aimed at pressing Israel to ease restrictions on the enclave.

The Israeli military claimed hundreds of Palestinians gathered along the frontier during the night, hurling explosives and burning tires.

The military said its troops responded with “riot dispersal means” and Gaza medics said at least six Palestinians were hurt, one seriously. A few hours later, Israeli pre-dawn airstrikes targeted a Hamas weapons manufacturing complex and a tunnel it said was used by fighters after incendiary balloons were sent across the border.

There were no reports of casualties in the bombings.

An Egyptian-mediated truce ended the May conflict in which Israel carried out airstrikes across the coastal enclave. At least 250 Palestinians, many of them children, and 13 people in Israel were killed in 11 days of fighting.

But violence has recently increased despite an Israeli announcement this month of a resumption of Qatari aid to Gaza, a decision that had been seen as bolstering the truce.

Palestinian groups say Israel has yet to make good on its word and over the past two weeks, fighters have allegedly fired a rocket and sent balloons carrying incendiary material into Israel, setting off brush fires and drawing indiscriminate Israeli strikes on Hamas facilities.

Israel keeps Gaza under a blockade, tightly restricting movement in and out of the territory that is home to 2 million Palestinians. Egypt also maintains Gaza sanctions.

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Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my