Israel further tightens Gaza blockade over arson kites

Geneva Stokes
July 19, 2018

A young Palestinian man has died more than two months after being shot by Israeli military forces during clashes between a group of Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces in the southern part of the occupied West Bank.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited a southern Israeli town bordering Gaza on Tuesday that was pummeled with rockets from the strip over the weekend and told community leaders there that Israel is engaged in a "lengthy battle".

The Israeli military said Hamas was responsible for a steady escalation of violence along the frontier.

Israel unleashed its biggest air strikes on the Gaza Strip since a 2014 war, killing two Palestinians, while dozens of rockets targeted Israel, but Hamas said a ceasefire had been reached late in the day. According to the United Nations, over the past seven weeks, over 100 Palestinian demonstrators have died at the hands of the Israeli military. "When they shoot, you shoot back, hit back", said Gabbay.

The strikes signalled a tougher Israeli response to the hundreds of balloons and kites carrying firebombs that have been launched from the blockaded Gaza Strip since April.

Hamas police also announced an explosion Sunday at a house in Gaza City that killed a father and son, aged 35 and 13.

As Israel moves more Iron Dome anti-missile batteries to its border with Gaza, Hamas terrorists are moving forward with plans to spread their arson-by-air attacks deeper into the country.

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Hamas responded with more than 200 projectiles toward Israel communities, evoking memories of the three wars the sides have waged over the past decade.

Asked about the fire kites and terror balloons, Netanyahu said that the government has "instructed the IDF to stop this". "I hope that Hamas has drawn conclusions, and if they haven't, they will need to pay a heavy price".

On Saturday, the Israeli military struck several Hamas military compounds and flattened a number of its training camps.

The Israeli non-governmental organisation Gisha, which promotes freedom of movement for Palestinians, said the "shutting down of Gaza's main lifeline is an abhorrent act of illegal collective punishment against the two million residents of Gaza, most of whom are children". "And it has taken the concerted efforts of everyone to make sure that we step back from confrontation". Twenty-five people were wounded across Gaza, the ministry said.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh vowed on Sunday that armed factions in Gaza would retaliate against any further Israeli airstrikes in the Strip.

Since the rallies began on March 30, more than 130 Palestinian protesters have been martyred - and thousands more injured - by Israeli army gunfire.

Netanyahu and his government have also been acting as cheerleaders for, and co-conspirators of, the Trump administration as it torpedoes the Iran nuclear deal and intensifies economic and military pressure on Tehran across the region.

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