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World Gaza rulers Hamas wage perilous campaign of harassing Israel

06:16  08 september  2021
06:16  08 september  2021 Source:   afp.com

Israel strikes Gaza after fire balloons, border clashes

  Israel strikes Gaza after fire balloons, border clashes Israel strikes Gaza after fire balloons, border clashes"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.

As night falls on the Gaza Strip, Palestinian protesters approach the border fence with Israel, carrying homemade stun grenades and Molotov cocktails to hurl toward the enemy soldiers.

a group of people sitting around a fire: Palestinians gather during a recent night protest along the border fence in the southern Gaza Strip, demanding an end to Israel's blockade © SAID KHATIB Palestinians gather during a recent night protest along the border fence in the southern Gaza Strip, demanding an end to Israel's blockade

The aim of these so-called disruption operations, sponsored by the Islamist armed group Hamas that rules Gaza, is to harass the Israeli border forces -- but analysts warn it is a dangerous game.

a man flying through the air on a skateboard: Palestinians regularly release incendiary balloons towards Israel where they start fires in grasslands and on farms © Mahmud Hams Palestinians regularly release incendiary balloons towards Israel where they start fires in grasslands and on farms

One of the protesters, 19-year-old Farid, said he studies engineering at Gaza University by day, and then joins the night-time rallies demanding an end to the 15-year-old Israeli blockade.

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  Israel bombs Hamas sites in Gaza after protests Palestinians say they are resuming the demonstrations to press Israel to ease restrictions on the enclave.The army said on Sunday hundreds of Palestinians gathered along the separation barrier between Israel and the Gaza Strip during the night, hurling explosives and burning tyres and that troops responded with “riot dispersal means”.

a man holding a sign: A protester in Tel Aviv holds a sign calling for © AHMAD GHARABLI A protester in Tel Aviv holds a sign calling for "revenge" after the death of an Israeli border guard at the Gaza border

The young man had brought a homemade stun grenade, which he hurled toward the border fence, heavily guarded by the Israeli army, about 200 metres (219 yards) away.

A flash of light burst through the darkness, followed by a blast that, for a brief moment, drowned out the martial music playing from a huge portable sound system.

"We'll drive them crazy," Farid said enthusiastically.

"As long as we can't sleep in safety, we won't allow the soldiers, the occupation, to sleep!"

Street vendors nearby sold cold drinks, and buses waited to take the protesters back to Gaza City at the end of the evening.

All this could have created an almost festival-like atmosphere -- were it not for the regular casualties that result from these protests.

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Three Palestinians -- including a member of the armed wing of Hamas -- and an Israeli sniper have lost their lives since mid-August in these demonstrations.

The Israeli army at times fires live rounds. It also manoeuvres drones overhead which from time to time drop tear gas grenades, forcing the crowds to scatter.

- 'Limited escalation' -


Video: Israel's Army Kills 55 Palestinians in 8 Months - OCHA (Dailymotion)

The recent deaths are a reminder of the fragility of the truce between Israel and Hamas, which fought their last full-scale war in May, the fourth since 2008.

In that bloody escalation, Israeli strikes on Gaza killed 260 Palestinians, including fighters, between May 10 to 21, according to local authorities.

In Israel, rocket fire from the Palestinian territory killed 13 people, including a soldier, according to the police and army.

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Since the Egypt-brokered ceasefire, Hamas has fired only one rocket, instead re-focussing on its disruption operations.

These include activists sending incendiary balloons floating through the sky and into Israel, where they start fires in grasslands and on farms.

The Israeli air force often responds with strikes, most recently targeting Hamas infrastructure on Monday night.

The Hamas strategy is one of "limited and carefully calculated" escalation, said Mukhaimer Abu Saada, a political science professor at Al-Azhar University in Gaza.

The aim is to protest Israeli restrictions on the impoverished enclave of two million people, but without spiralling into another full-scale conflict.

Since the last war, Israel has eased restrictions on the entry of goods into Gaza, widened the permitted fishing zone and approved a new system for distributing Qatari aid via the UN, which Doha has said would begin soon.

Hamas, which dismisses these steps as nowhere near enough, has resumed its campaign to "irritate" Israel while avoiding "an open armed confrontation", said Mukhaimer Abu Saada, who labelled it a risky strategy.

The Gaza Strip targeted by new Israeli strikes

 The Gaza Strip targeted by new Israeli strikes © Said Khatib / AFP N Objects Tensions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On the night of Monday 6 to Tuesday, September 7th, Israel led to strikes on the Gaza Strip after throwing of incendiary balloons to its territory from the Palestinian enclave that caused bushfires. "Hunting planes have targeted an rocket manufacturing workshop and a Hamas military ground in Khan Younès, in the southern Gaza Strip," said Israeli army in a statement .

- 'Level of violence' -

"Hamas prefers to use disruption units along the fence because the Israeli deterrence towards Hamas works in a way," said researcher Kobi Michael, a former Israeli strategic affairs ministry official in charge of Palestinian issues.

"They understand that if they launch rockets, the probability that the Israeli retaliation will be much more rapid and aggressive is higher."

For more than a year from March 2018, every Friday demonstrators would amass along the fence, demanding an end to the blockade and the "right of return" for Palestinians driven into exile when Israel was created in 1948.

About 310 Palestinians were killed by Israeli soldiers' fire, and eight Israelis also died during that period.

Hamas -- emboldened by what it has presented as a "victory" after the latest war in May -- now "feel they are able to provoke Israel... but they might be wrong," said Michael.

Hamas thinks they can "control the level of violence", he said, adding that this might be "a miscalculation because Israel is losing its patience.

"Israel will have no problem retaliating very aggressively if Hamas drags it into another campaign."

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UN to distribute cash aid to Gaza families, envoy says .
Nearly 100,000 beneficiaries will begin to receive cash aid on Monday, UN Middle East envoy says.Qatar has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to Gaza since Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip in 2014. But another round of fighting in May with Hamas, the Palestinian group that rules Gaza, prompted Israeli and United States demands to revise the payouts to ensure they did not reach Hamas. They have since been on hold.

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