Israeli Army Strikes Two Groups Launching Flaming Balloons From Gaza Strip

The two strikes come after a 15-year-old Palestinian died from a gunshot wound sustained during clashes along the border, Gaza's health ministry says

Palestinians fly balloons loaded with flammable material to be thrown at the Israeli side, near the Israel-Gaza border in the central Gaza Strip, June 4, 2018
\ Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/ REUTERS

The Israeli military said it struck a Palestinian squad that launched incendiary balloons from the Strip towards Israeli territory on Saturday afternoon.

This was the second such strike carried out by the army on Saturday; earlier in the day, an Israeli army aircraft opened fire on a different squad that launched flaming balloons from the northern Gaza Strip.

Gaza's Health Ministry said earlier Saturday that a 15-year-old Palestinian died from a gunshot wound sustained during clashes Friday along the Gaza border.

Also on Saturday, Israeli firefighting services struggled to put out two fires that raged in Gaza-border communities as a result of the airborne firebombs. The two fires have been contained. 

A 25-year-old Palestinian was also killed and 220 were wounded during Friday's protest, said the Gaza Health Ministry, which took place as talks on an Israel-Hamas deal on Gaza's future are said to be nearing a potential breakthrough

Senior Hamas officials arrived at the Strip Thursday through Egypt, and according to sources in the Strip, are negotiating a deal for calm along the border as well as reconcilliation with the Palestinian Authority.

The possible deal would see the end of protests along the Gaza-Israel fence and of incendiary kites and balloons in exchange for the opening of two crossing points, Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar reported Friday.

In a separate incident Friday, Israeli forces reportedly opened fire at several Palestinians who approached the border, though none were wounded. 

According to the Israeli army, the Palestinians crossed the fence and threw charges and molotov cocktails before returning to the Strip. Reports in Gaza said there were no casualties in the incident. 

Almog Ben-Zikri contributed to this report.