Israel strikes Gaza after border clashes, fire balloons were launched

JERUSALEM (AFP) - The Israeli air force attacked two sites in Gaza early on Sunday (Aug 29) morning, the army said, after Gazans clashed with forces on the border and launched incendiary balloons at southern Israel.

"IDF fighter jets struck a Hamas military compound used for manufacturing weapons and training as well as an entrance to a terror tunnel adjacent to Jabalia," a statement from the Israeli army said, referring to the Israel Defence Forces.

"The strikes were in response to Hamas launching incendiary balloons into Israeli territory and the violent riots that took place yesterday," it added.

According to the army, both incidents were "examples of how Hamas continues to employ terror tactics and target civilians".

There were no reports from Gaza of casualties caused by the Israeli strikes.

On Saturday evening, two wildfires broke out in the Eshkol region near the Palestinian enclave, Israeli firefighters said.

Protests erupted later in the day, with the Israeli army firing tear gas and stun grenades as Palestinians burned tyres on the border between Gaza and Israel, an Agence France-Presse reporter said.

The health ministry in Gaza said 11 Palestinians had been hurt in the clashes, three of them by live fire.

Earlier on Saturday, Gazans laid to rest Omar Hassan Abu al-Nile, 12, who died of his wounds after being shot by Israeli forces during border clashes a week earlier.

In 2018, Gazans began a protest movement demanding an end to Israel's blockade and the right for Palestinians to return to lands they fled or were expelled from when the Jewish state was founded in 1948.

The often-violent weekly demonstrations backed by Hamas - the Islamist militant group that rules Gaza - sputtered as Israel killed some 350 Palestinians in the territory over more than a year.

Hamas and Israel then fought a devastating 11-day conflict in May, the worst between the two sides in years that ended with an informal truce.

Incendiary balloons from Gaza have continued in the following months, with Israel blaming Hamas.

Israel has at the same time been easing restrictions on civilian life and commerce for the territory it has blockaded since 2007, when Hamas took power.