JERUSALEM: The Israeli Air Force on Saturday attacked Hamas positions in Gaza, in response to an infiltration that took place hours earlier when four Palestinians threw a petrol bomb after crossing the fence into Israel, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) said.
The infiltrator also left behind a tent with the message “March of Return: returning to the lands of Palestine”, Efe quoted an IDF statement as saying.
Israeli soldiers who arrived at the site fired warning shots and the individuals returned to the Palestinian side of the fence, with no injuries reported.
The army claims that Saturday’s incident is one of many attempts at infiltration over the weekend aimed at damaging the fence and security infrastructure and holds Hamas, the de facto ruler of the enclave and considered by Israel, the European Union, the United States and other countries to be a terrorist organisation, responsible for “any threat” emanating from Gaza.
Over the weekend dozens of kites with Molotov cocktails were flown from the Gaza strip, setting fire to Israeli fields.
According to news reports some 300 kites with incendiary devices crossed the divide this month and some 100 fires were started on the Israeli side.
Tension in the area has soared with the Palestinian protests of the Great March of Return and against the move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem on May 14.
The demonstrations — which began on March 30 — were scheduled to end on 15 May, the day on which the Palestinians commemorate the Nakba, the catastrophe that for them marked the creation of the State of Israel 70 years ago and the beginning of their dispossession and exile.
However, the Islamist Hamas movement called for continued mobilisation until June 5, the day of the start of the Six Day War in 1967, when the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and the Syrian Golan Heights began.
The protests continued on Friday, albeit in smaller numbers than in previous weeks, when, according to the IDF, some 5,000 people gathered near the fence, compared to between 30 to 40,000 on the previous Friday. More than 100 people were injured by live fire, rubber bullets and asphyxiation from tear gas, according to Palestinian medical sources.
Since the protests began, at least 116 Palestinians have been shot dead by Israeli soldiers, more than 3,000 have been injured by bullets and, according to Palestinian sources, 6 more have been killed and their bodies are being held by the Israeli army.