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.

FASTFACT

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.


Algerian parliament vote ‘before year’s end’

Algerians walk across from the People's National Assembly (parliament) building during a voting session on constitutional reforms in the capital Algiers, on September 10, 2020. (AFP)
Updated 22 September 2020

Algerian parliament vote ‘before year’s end’

  • The term of the widely discredited current lower house, elected in 2017, was originally set to end in May 2022

ALGIERS: The Algerian president says early legislative elections aimed at opening parliament to civil society will be held before the end of the year to give a new face to a parliament long dominated by a single party.

Abdelmadjid Tebboune did not set a date but indicated on Sunday evening that the parliamentary voting would follow a national referendum on a constitutional revision to be held Nov. 1, a highly symbolic date marking the start of this North African nation’s seven-year war with France for independence that began Nov. 1, 1954.
The next National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, which “will be made up of lawmakers from universities, civil society, will serve as the base of the ‘New Algeria,’” Tebboune said in an interview with two Algerian newspapers.
“If the people want change, it is time to work to not remain in the ambiguity that prevailed earlier.”
Tebboune was referring to the corruption that highlighted the 20 years of power of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, forced to resign in April 2019 amid growing peaceful street protests and a push from the then-Army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah, who died in December.

If the people want change, it is time to work to not remain in the ambiguity that prevailed earlier.

Abdelmadjid Tebboune, President of Algeria

Tebboune was elected promising change, including a new parliament, though the vote was largely boycotted by the protest movement, the Hirak.
The term of the widely discredited current lower house, elected in 2017, was originally set to end in May 2022.
A new electoral law foreseen in the constitutional revision “will put in place safeguards to keep dirty money out of politics,” the president said, adding that with the constitutional revision Algeria would “truly be at the service of the citizen and not at the service of a group exercising domination.”
Numerous business leaders and two prime ministers have been jailed on corruption charges since the downfall of Bouteflika. During a trial last week, lawmaker Baha Eddine Tliba admitted to paying the former chief of the powerful FLN party Djamel Ould Abbas, to be placed on his list of candidates to ensure him a parliamentary seat.