In Second Strike Today, Israel Hits Hamas Targets in Gaza in Response to Burning Balloons

Palestinian killed trying to cross border hours after IDF strike, Gaza rockets

An Israeli armored personnel carrier drives on the Israeli side of the border between Israel and Gaza, June 8, 2018.
\ AMIR COHEN/ REUTERS

A 24-year-old Palestinian man was killed by Israeli army gunfire when a group of Palestinians tried to breach the Gaza border fence, reports in the Strip said Monday. He was identified as Sabri Abu Khadir. 

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On Monday evening, the Israeli military reported attacking Hamas infrustructure in Gaza for the second time. The army claimed Hamas had launched burning baloons into Israeli territory.

Earlier that day, hours before the killing of Abu Khadir, the Israeli military said it attacked nine Hamas targets in Gaza, including military compounds and weapons production facilities. The IDF said the attacks were carried out in response to the firing of kites and explosive devices into Israel, as well as to an attempt to infiltrate into Israel. 

In addition, an explosion was reported in the vicinity of a different group of Palestinians near the Israeli community of Zikim. It is believed that the group was also attempting to cross into Israel.

According to the Israeli military, five Palestinians were injured when "security infrastructure" they were attempting to damage exploded. The military said it evacuated workers from a site close to the border community of Nahal Oz, where a protective wall is being built.

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Later Monday, a 13-year-old Palestinian died. Zakariya Bashbash, who was severely injured in recent clashes between protestors and Israeli security forces on the Gaza border succumbed to his injuries after being admitted to Gaza's Shifa Hospital. 

Also Monday, three rockets were fired from the Strip toward Israel, with one of them landing in the coastal enclave. Around 5 A.M this morning, rocket alarm sirens were heard in Israeli communities near the Gaza border, including Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, and Netiv Ha'asara, Kibbutz Zikim, and Carmia.

The overnight flare-up came after a turbulent day in which the IDF carried out four separate strikes near groups of Palestinians who launched incendiary balloons and kites from Gaza into Israel. The IDF said two of the attacks targeted vehicles used by those flying the flammable objects.

Sunday also saw some 17 fires breaking out in Israeli communities near the Gaza border, some of which are believed to have been caused by burning kites and balloons.

Later Sunday, senior officials in the defense establishment made it clear to ministers that they believe the way to cope with incendiary kites and balloons is to attack Hamas targets and not to harm those launching them

The army believes that attacking groups launching the kites and balloons will result in too many casualties and another round of violence it would prefer to avoid. According to the army, attacking Hamas targets will be more effective as it will extract a price from the organization and pressure it to stop the arsons in the south on its own.