Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 24 September 2020

Israeli tanks hit Hamas in Gaza after balloon attacks

Israel has bombed Gaza almost daily since August 6, in response to the airborne incendiary devices

Smoke rises in the distance after Israeli war planes carried out air strikes on Gaza City. AFP
Smoke rises in the distance after Israeli war planes carried out air strikes on Gaza City. AFP

Israeli tanks hit Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday as Palestinian balloon attacks across the border continued despite international truce efforts.

In a statement issued early in the morning, the Israeli military said there were airborne explosive and incendiary attacks in southern Israel on Saturday.

"In response to the ongoing events, a short while ago ... tanks struck military posts belonging to the Hamas terror organisation in the southern Gaza Strip," it said.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Israel has been bombing Gaza almost daily since August 6, in response to the airborne incendiary devices and, less frequently, rockets launched across the border.

The fire bombs – crude devices fitted to items such as balloons and plastic bags – havebeen the cause of more than 400 blazes in southern Israel, according to the fire brigade.

An Egyptian delegation has been shuttling between the two sides to try to broker a renewal of an informal truce under which Israel committed to ease its 13-year blockade of Gaza in return for calm on the border.

It was joined this week by Qatar's Gaza envoy Mohammed Al Emadi, who delivered the latest tranche of $30 million (Dh110.2m) in aid to the territory last Tuesday before holding talks with Israeli officials in Tel Aviv.

Sources close to the Qatari delegation said the Israelis told Mr El Emadi they were willing to end a punitive ban on fuel deliveries for Gaza's power plant and ease their blockade if there was an end to the fire balloons.

Qatari financial aid for the impoverished territory was a major component of the truce, first agreed in November 2018 and renewed several times since.

But Israel also said it would take other measures to alleviate unemployment of more than 50 per cent in the territory, home to about two million people.

Disagreements over their introduction have fuelled repeated flare-ups on the border.

These escalated into major conflicts in 2008, 2012 and 2014 and mediators have been striving to prevent a new conflict.

Updated: August 30, 2020 02:47 PM

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