Two hurt as Israel hits Gaza targets over ‘arson balloons’

Two hurt as Israel hits Gaza targets over ‘arson balloons’
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Palestinian protesters gather as tear gas canisters are launched by Israeli forces during a demonstration along the border between Israel and the Gaza strip, east of Gaza city on August 3, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS

Gaza City: An Israeli drone attacked a Palestinian militant base in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday, moderately injuring two people, security officials in the Hamas-ruled territory said.

They said the facility, north of Beit Lahiya, was used by a small group known as Al-Mujahedeen, which despite its name that means holy warriors in Arabic is not a Salafist movement.

The Israeli military said one of its aircraft fired at two targets in the strip’s northern area, describing one of them as “a vehicle that served a terrorist squad for launching arson balloons”.

It also attacked “a terrorist squad that was launching arson balloons from the northern Gaza Strip into Israel”, the army said in an English-language statement.

Palestinians in Gaza have been flying balloons and kites carrying incendiary devices across the border into Israel, starting hundreds of fires.

It is the latest phase of border demonstrations that began at the end of March, in which at least 159 Palestinians have been killed while one Israeli soldier has been shot dead.

According to unconfirmed local media reports, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to meet members of his security cabinet later Sunday to discuss a possible truce with Hamas.

Hamas leaders have been meeting in Gaza over the weekend but no details of their talks have emerged.

According to a senior Hamas source, they were expected to deal with UN and Egyptian ceasefire proposals and the lifting of Israel’s decade-long blockade of the Palestinian enclave.

Israel insists its blockade is necessary to isolate Hamas, with which it has fought three wars since 2008.

Critics say it amounts to collective punishment of the coastal territory’s two million residents.

Agence France-Presse