Tens of Thousands Participate in Id al-Fitr Prayers Along Israel-Gaza Border

Senior Hamas leader says at prayer that the Palestinian people will continue protesting ■ The IDF carried out warning shots at those who detonated explosives in the Gaza Strip

A Palestinian girl stands in the middle of Muslim women performing Eid al-Fitr prayers, marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, in Eastern Gaza City, Friday, June 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Khalil Hamra/AP

>> UPDATE: Gaza protest turnout lowest ever as dozens demonstrate on the border <<

Tens of thousands of Palestinians marked the first day of Id al-Fitr, which commemorates the end of the month-long Ramadan fast, at several points along the Israel-Gaza border early Friday. Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya addressed one of the prayer sites, saying that Palestinian people will continue protesting and working against matters that harm Palestinian national interests.

The Israeli military fired warning shots at Palestinians attempting to ignite incendiary balloons in southern Gaza, also firing at their vehicle. Earlier Friday, media outlets in Gaza reported that the Israeli military fired at a Hamas outpost in southern Gaza, though no casualties were reported.

Two fires broke out on the Israeli side of the border Friday afternoon, apparently caused by incendiary kites launched from Gaza.

Israel's air force fired warning shots at a Palestinian cell attempting to launch incendiary balloons from the near the al-Bureij refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip into Israel on Thursday afternoon. No casualties were reported. 

Putting out a forest fire near Kibbutz Be'eri caused by an incendiary device launched by Palestinians in Gaza on Thursday.
\ Eliyahu Hershkovitz

The protest group, which calls itself the "kite-builders unit," held a press conference east of al-Bureij Thursday and said it would extend the reach of the kite attacks to up to 40 kilometers beyond the Gaza border if Israel does not lift the blockade on Gaza.

The IDF said it also attacked infrastructure on Thursday near to where the terrorist cell had prepared its incendiary balloons. The military said it views the use of explosive and incendiary kites and balloons seriously and will act to prevent their use.

Last week Haaretz reported that Israeli military officials believe they would no longer be able to show restraint in the face of large numbers of incendiary kites and balloons launched from inside the Gaza Strip, which have caused extensive damage to Israeli agricultural fields and forests near the border.

Israel has previously fired on Palestinians launching balloons from Gaza carrying explosive and incendiary devices. Firebombs tied to kites and balloons have caused major brushfires in fields and woods. Some have also carried explosive devices with the potential to harm civilians, troops and the firefighters called to extinguish the fires.

The organizers of the protests over the past few months along the border fence with Israel have called to hold a mass prayer service for the holiday on Friday morning in the encampments along the border.