Israeli warplanes strike Gaza following border protests
Israeli warplanes fired rockets into the besieged Gaza Strip early on Sunday, hours after Israeli troops shot at Palestinian protesters along the border demonstrating against Israel's 14-year blockade of the impoverished enclave.
The Israeli military said in a statement its warplanes bombed a "Hamas militant facility" in the Gaza Strip in response to "the launching of incendiary balloons" into southern Israel and "violent protests" staged for a second consecutive week.
Israeli warplanes struck a farm land near the town of Beit Hanoun, in the north of the Gaza Strip, causing physical damages but no injuries, the Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.
The fighter jets shot four missiles near a location at Shuhada Street south of Gaza City, causing fire to erupt at the site, Wafa said, adding that no injuries were reported.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke to reporters in Washington before he boarded a flight to Israel, wrapping up a state visit that culminated with a face-to-face meeting with President Joe Biden. It was the first since Bennett took office in June.
"We will operate in Gaza according to our interests," he said in Hebrew on the tarmac.
Bennett said he "achieved all the objectives for the trip" to Washington, including strategic cooperation in preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
On Saturday, hundreds of Palestinian activists staged a nighttime protest along the Israeli border to demonstrated the enclave's blockade.
Gaza health officials said three people were injured by Israeli forces who responded with live fire. Additional protests were planned throughout the week.
Organisers said the protests are meant to increase pressure on Israel to lift its blockade of the Palestinian territory, where some 2 million Palestinian live under Israel's imposed a land, sea and air blockade.
Israel has maintained a blockade on the impoverished enclave since Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007 after winning Palestinian elections. Israel has since launched four wars on the Strip, the most recent in May.
The blockade, dubbed as "illegal" and a form of "collective punishment" by rights groups, restricts the movement of goods and people in and out of Gaza and has ravaged the territory's economy.
Israel has tightened the closure since an 11-day war in May, demanding the return of the remains of two dead soldiers and freedom for two Israelis believed to be in Hamas captivity.
Egypt is working to shore up a cease-fire to end May's fighting and appeared to be making progress last week.
At least 260 Palestinians were killed during May’s Hamas-Israel war, including 67 children and 39 women, according to the Gaza health ministry.