Israeli tanks target Hamas in Gaza after balloon attacks

Israeli tanks target Hamas in besieged Gaza after balloon attacks
2 min read
Israel has bombed Gaza almost daily since August 6, in response to the airborne incendiary devices.
In 2006, Israel imposed a land, sea and air blockade on the strip [Getty]

Israeli tanks hit Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the army said, as Palestinian balloon attacks across the border continued despite international truce efforts.

An early-morning military statement said there had been airborne explosive and incendiary attacks into southern Israel on Saturday.

"In response to the ongoing events, a short while ago... tanks struck military posts belonging to the Hamas terror organization in the southern Gaza Strip," the English-language statement said.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Israel has bombed Gaza almost daily since August 6, in response to the airborne incendiary devices and, less frequently, rockets launched across the border.

The fire bombs – crude devices fitted to balloons, inflated condoms or plastic bags – have triggered more than 400 blazes in southern Israel, according to the fire brigade.

An Egyptian delegation has been shuttling between the two sides to try to broker a renewal of an informal truce under which Israel committed to ease its 13-year-old blockade of Gaza in return for calm on the border.

It was joined this week by Qatar's Gaza envoy Mohammed el-Emadi who delivered the latest tranche of $30 million in aid to the territory on Tuesday before holding talks with Israeli officials in Tel Aviv.

Sources close to the Qatari delegation said the Israelis had told Emadi they were willing to end a punitive ban on fuel deliveries for Gaza's power plant and ease their blockade if there was an end to the fire balloons.

Financial aid for the impoverished territory from gas-rich Qatar had been a major component of the truce, first agreed in November 2018 and renewed several times since.

But Israel had also said it would take other measures to alleviate unemployment of more than 50 percent in the territory of some two million people.

Ongoing violence against Gaza

In 2006, Israel imposed a land, sea and air blockade on the strip, effectively turning the coastal enclave into an open-air prison, where the entry of all basic necessities - such as food, fuel and medicines - is controlled by Israel.

Read also: Under blockade and bombs, Gazans fear Covid-19 disaster

Israel insists its blockade is necessary to isolate Hamas, with which it has fought three wars since 2008.

Critics say the blockade, along with periodic bombardment of Gaza amounts to collective punishment of the coastal enclave's 2 million residents.

Nearly 70 percent of Gaza's population is food insecure and around 80 percent of Palestinians in the impoverished enclave are reliant on international aid, according to the United Nations.

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