Israel strikes Hamas in Gaza over rockets, fire balloons

Smoke rises in the distance after war planes belonging to the Israeli army carried out airstrikes over Gaza City on Friday. (AFP)
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Updated 29 August 2020

Israel strikes Hamas in Gaza over rockets, fire balloons

  • Hamas trying to mount pressure as Israel tightens blockade

GAZA: Israeli tanks and warplanes struck Hamas positions in Gaza on Friday and Hamas forces fired half-a-dozen rockets toward southern Israel, as a three-week-old flare-up showed no let-up despite international mediation efforts, the military said.

There were no reports of casualties on either side.
Warning sirens sounded before dawn in Israeli communities near the border as the pre-dawn airstrikes and shelling prompted Hamas to launch a salvo of six rockets in retaliation.
Hamas, which has controlled Gaza since 2007, said the rockets were a “direct response to the escalation by the Israeli occupier.”
Israel’s military said it struck underground infrastructure and a military post belonging to Hamas overnight in response to incendiary balloons launched from the Palestinian enclave that have burned Israeli farmland.
Gaza militants then fired six rockets toward Israel, the military said, drawing a second round of Israeli strikes which hit a Hamas armed training camp.
An Israeli military spokesman said he did not have any information on where the Gaza rockets landed, but that none of them were intercepted by its Iron Dome system.
Hamas has been trying to pressure Israel to ease its blockade of Gaza and allow more investment, in part by letting Palestinians launch dozens of helium balloons carrying incendiary material toward southern Israel in recent weeks. But so far Israel’s response has been to tighten the blockade.
The Israelis are reported to have said they are willing to resume fuel deliveries for the power plant and ease their blockade if there is an end to the fire balloons.


Israel has bombed Gaza almost daily since Aug. 6, for the past two weeks, saying it would not tolerate the balloons.

The fire bombs, crude devices fitted to balloons, inflated condoms or plastic bags, have triggered more than 400 blazes in southern Israel, according to fire brigade figures.
Mediators from the UN, Egypt and Qatar have been working to restore calm. An Egyptian delegation has been shuttling between the two sides to try to broker a renewal of the truce.
Israel has bombed Gaza almost daily since Aug. 6, for the past two weeks, saying it would not tolerate the balloons.
With tension high, Israel has closed its only commercial crossing with Gaza, banned sea access and halted fuel imports into the coastal strip, leading to its only power plant shutting down last week.
Health officials have voiced concern that the power plant shutdown could aggravate a novel coronavirus outbreak in impoverished Gaza, which is home to 2 million Palestinians.
Financial aid for the impoverished territory from gas-rich Qatar has been a major component of the latest truce first agreed upon in November 2018 and renewed several times since.
But Israel also undertook other measures to alleviate unemployment of more than 50 percent in the territory of some 2 million people.
Disagreements over their implementation have fueled repeated flare-ups on the border.
Such flare-ups escalated into major conflicts in 2008, 2012 and 2014, and mediators have been striving to prevent a new war.

No Middle East peace without solving ‘Palestinian problem,’ says Russia

Updated 18 September 2020

No Middle East peace without solving ‘Palestinian problem,’ says Russia

  • Kremlin observes ‘progress’ in the normalization of ties in the region

MOSCOW: Russia said it would be a “mistake” to think of peace in the Middle East without resolving the Palestinian issue.

The Foreign Ministry statement came on Thursday after Israel normalized relations with long-time foes Bahrain and the UAE at the White House on Tuesday.

Russia said it noted “progress” in the normalization of ties between Israel and several Arab countries but said that “the Palestinian problem remains acute.” 

“It would be a mistake to think that without finding a solution to it that it will be possible to secure lasting stabilization in the Middle East.” 

Moscow urged regional and global players to “ramp up coordinated efforts” to solve the issue. 

“Russia is ready for such joint work,” including in the framework of the diplomatic Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators and in close coordination with the Arab League, the Foreign Ministry said. 

US President Donald Trump has said similar US-brokered deals are close between the Jewish state and several other nations. 

Bahrain and the UAE are the first Arab nations to establish relations with Israel since Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. 

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday that only an Israeli withdrawal from its occupied territories could bring peace to the Middle East.