Israel conducts air strikes in Gaza as new violence flares
Now Reading
Israel conducts air strikes in Gaza as new violence flares

Israel conducts air strikes in Gaza as new violence flares

The conflict in May killed more than 250 Palestinians and 13 people in Israel


Israeli aircraft struck sites belonging to the Gaza Strip’s ruling Hamas movement early Wednesday after incendiary balloons launched from the Palestinian territory set multiple fires in southern Israel.

They were the first such attacks since an 11-day conflict last month ended in a fragile truce, and also the first ordered since a government led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett took power Sunday in Israel.

Militants sent the arson balloons over the border ahead of a march on Tuesday by Jewish nationalists through Palestinian neighbourhoods in contested east Jerusalem. Palestinians consider the parade a provocative assertion of Israeli control over territory they seek for a future capital, and the march was especially fraught this year because it touches on questions of Israeli sovereignty that divide the new governing coalition.

Both the march and the balloons presented early tests to the Bennett government, an incongruous mix of nationalists, leftists, centrists and a small Islamist party that coalesced to oust longtime leader Benjamin Netanyahu. In the past, Israeli media reported, Bennett — an opponent of Palestinian statehood — has said Israel must respond to the flaming balloons as it would to rocket fire, which often draws an Israeli military response.

Despite concerns that the march could reignite violence with the Palestinians, and his government’s aim to steer clear of issues that divide it, calling off the march would have opened Bennett’s government to criticism that he bowed to the dictates of Hamas. The militant group, which aims to assert its leadership credentials among Palestinians in the West Bank who are governed by the more moderate Palestinian Authority, had warned repeatedly that developments in Jerusalem could set off renewed fighting.

Contentious march
The Israeli military tweeted Wednesday that it was “ready for all scenarios, including the resumption of hostilities, in the face of continued terrorist operations from the Gaza Strip.”

The conflict in May killed more than 250 Palestinians and 13 people in Israel. There were no immediate reports of casualties from the latest Israeli air attacks. The incendiary balloons ignited more than two dozen fires in Israel’s south.

The parade of nationalists waving blue and white Israeli flags, some chanting, “Death to Arabs,” followed a different route this year in an attempt to minimize confrontations in east Jerusalem, which Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war. Palestinians object to any celebration of Israeli control over the area, which is home to Jewish, Muslim and Christian shrines.

The march was originally set for May 10 – the day Israel marked its capture of east Jerusalem – but was rescheduled after Hamas fired rockets at Jerusalem in the name of defending it, following weeks of clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians in the holy city that also involved sovereignty issues.

Those rockets touched off a round of fighting that spilled over into the West Bank and cities inside Israel.

You might also like


Scroll To Top