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IDF strikes Hamas post where flaming kites, explosive balloons launched from

Palestinians prepare an incendiary device to attach to a kite to fly over the Gaza-Israel border fence on April 20, 2018
Mohammed ABED (AFP)
At least 130 Palestinians have been killed over the last couple of months in mass demonstrations on the border

Israels Defense Forces (IDF) said Friday evening that it had struck an observation post in the Gaza Strip belonging to the Gaza-ruling Islamist group Hamas, after explosive balloons and flaming kites were launched towards Israel earlier in the day.

"The IDF views the use of incendiary balloons and kites with great severity and will operate to prevent their use," it said in a statement. 

Initially, Israel said that  it fired warning shots towards a "group of Palestinians preparing explosive balloons to be sent from southern Gaza Strip in Israel," in anticipation of mass protests and threats by Hamas to send thousands of flaming kites and balloons deep into Israeli territory.

As demonstrations got underway, reports emerged from the Palestinian Shams news outlet, that the Israeli army fired at a Hamas observation post in the southern Gaza Strip close to the city of Rafah. No casualties were reported.

An IDF statement said that one of its aircrafts "fired warning shots towards the group and towards a nearby vehicle."

By Friday evening, the IDF said there were no "extraordinary incidents" in what was a significantly muted day of protests despite Israel's preparations. 

Coinciding with the end of the month of Ramadan, several thousand Gazans gathered near the border fence with Israel early Friday morning for traditional prayers to mark of Eid al-Fitr.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh who joined the worshippers near the perimeter fence, reaffirmed his commitment to the continuation of the protests. He lauded the recent string of protests and said they had “revived the Palestinian issue” and refocused international attention towards their cause.

MAHMUD HAMS (AFP/File)

The IDF also said earlier that it had arrested a Palestinian attempting to infiltrate into Israel from the Strip.

Since the start of the “Great March of Return” protests on March 30, the army has responded to an unusually large number of Palestinians making "highly organized" attempts to break through the border fence.

Israeli police arrived to a highway in the Sha’ar Hanegev region to destroy a balloon affixed with an explosive device that had landed, following threats delivered by Hamas the day before.

On Thursday, Hamas threatened to fly 5,000 flaming kites and balloons some 40 kilometers into Israel on Friday in a new round of the weekly “Great March of Return” demonstrations. The militant group said at a press conference that the incendiary devices would be flown from various locations.

A group calling itself the “kite-builders unit” said that if Israel “doesn’t make use of the opportunity we are giving it” to end the blockade on Gaza, then it would “live under a siege of kites,” the Times of Israel reported.

Sparking fires in Israeli fields and causing millions of shekels worth of damage, the “fire kites” have quickly became a popular way for Palestinians to inflict damage on Israel without putting themselves in danger.

Ahead of the protest, the IDF struck a cell used for preparing incendiary helium balloons. The aerial attack came after the army fired a warning shot.

Avigdor Liberman, the Israeli Defense Minister, said earlier this week that some 200 fires had been started by burning kites in Israeli territory, a figure supported by the IDF.

Israel’s military announced the use of mini-drones to counter the wave of kites after that, according to Col. Nadav Livne has an interception success rate of “over 90 percent.”

At least 130 Palestinians have been killed over the last couple of months in mass demonstrations on the border with Israel accompanied by flaming kites, laying explosive devices on the fence or throwing grenades and stones.

Comments

(2)

IDF must destroy every Hamas infrastructures systematically. Not different from ISIS.

Just like socialocommunism.

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