Israel Targets Parts of Gaza Strip with Artillery Fire


Flames and smoke are seen during an Israeli air raid on Gaza on Thursday [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

GAZA CITY — Israeli aircraft bombed several sites belonging to the Hamas in the Gaza Strip for a fifth night in a row, the Israeli military said early Sunday.

Gaza security officials said the Israeli attacks hit Hamas observation posts near al-Maghazi and al-Bureij refugee camps in the centre of the strip, and the town of Khan Younis, further south.

Israel has banned fishing off Gaza’s coast and closed the Karam Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) goods crossing, cutting off deliveries of fuel to the territory’s sole power plant.

Power had been in short supply even before the shutdown, with consumers having access to electricity for only about eight hours a day.

That will now be cut to just four hours a day using power supplied from the Israeli grid

Shortly after that announcement, the military claimed Palestinian in Gaza fired two rockets into southern Israel that were intercepted by aerial defense systems. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The military said the airstrikes were in response to arson balloons that Hamas-affiliated groups sent across the Gaza frontier into Israeli territory. The balloons have caused dozens of fires that burned Israeli farmland in recent days.

On Saturday, dozens of Palestinians took part in nighttime protests along the Gaza-Israel perimeter fence. The military said the protesters “burned tires, hurled explosive devices and grenades towards the security fence and attempted to approach it.”

The Gaza health ministry said two demonstrators were wounded by Israeli gunfire.

Israel shouldered Hamas, which rules Gaza, the responsibility for all violent acts from the Palestinian territory.

After months of calm reinforced by the coronavirus pandemic, the Gaza-Israel frontier has turned volatile over the past week.

Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official, accused Israel on Saturday of not honoring an informal truce to ease the blockade it has imposed on Gaza since Hamas took it over in 2007.

He told Hamas’ al-Aqsa TV that the Palestinian people in Gaza were experiencing “slow death” by the blockade. “The zone of confrontation with the enemy is expanding day after day in response to its continued aggression,” he said.

He said Egyptian mediators were expected to visit the region to discuss reinforcing the truce, but no timing has been set.

(With inputs from AP)

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