Israeli forces attack two Hamas strongholds in Gaza

The Israel Defense Forces launched airstrikes in the Gaza Strip late Saturday night in retaliation for airborne arson attacks from the coastal enclave and renewed riots along the border.

The raids on Hamas targets south of Gaza City came hours after two fires were sparked in southern Israel by balloon-borne incendiary devices launched from the Gaza Strip. Hours later, Palestinians resumed clashes with Israeli forces along the Gaza border, as Hamas threatened to step up the cross-border arson attacks from Sunday.

The military said the airstrikes targeted a Hamas military compound used for training and weapon production, and the opening of a “terror tunnel.”

Palestinian Wafa News Agency said that one site at Shuhada Street south of Gaza City was hit by four missiles and another site near Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip was hit.There were no injuries in the Israeli strikes.

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Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum meanwhile warned that “the Zionist occupation bears all the repercussions and consequences of tightening the siege on Gaza and the escalation of the humanitarian crisis among its residents,” and that “these extremist policies will lead to an atmosphere of escalation and explosion.”Earlier in the evening hundreds of rioters gathered at the border fence, burning tires and throwing explosive devices. 

Gaza has seen two border protests in the past week — a major violent rally last Saturday and a second, relatively calmer one on Wednesday.

A fireball rises following an air strike in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, late on August 23, 2021. – Israel launched airstrikes against Gaza, a source inside the enclave said, after incendiary balloons launched from the strip started fires in the country’s south. The Israeli military declined to comment immediately when contacted by AFP. (Photo by Said KHATIB / AFP)

On Saturday the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry announced that a 13-year-old boy who was critically injured in last Saturday’s clashes with Israeli soldiers has succumbed to his wounds.

Omar Abu Nil, a resident of Gaza City’s Al-Tuffah neighborhood, was shot in the head by Israeli fire, according to Hamas health officials. Abu Nil was treated for a week in a Gaza hospital before passing away.

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Abu Nil was allegedly shot by Israeli forces during the violent protest that saw hundreds of Palestinian protesters approach the fence, throw stones and burn tires. Israeli troops responded with tear gas, rubber bullets, and a form of live fire.

Besides Abu Nil, one other Palestinian and one Israeli police officer were critically wounded during the clashes. The other Palestinian, Osama Dueij, passed away on Thursday; Hamas claimed Dueij as a member of its armed wing.

Earlier in the day, two fires were ignited in the Eshkol Regional Council in southern Israel after incendiary balloons were launched from Gaza.  Incendiary balloons have been sent into Israel over the past several days, starting 10 fires on Tuesday after the IDF struck targets throughout Monday night.

Israel has also allowed the import of new vehicles into the Strip, the resumption of the gold trade with the West Bank, and has increased the number of Gazan merchants who cross through the Erez Crossing.

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Also on Saturday, the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry announced that a 13-year-old boy who was critically injured during violent clashes last week succumbed to his wounds.

Identified as Omar abu-Nil from the al-Tuffah neighborhood in Gaza City, he had been shot by the IDF during violent protests that saw hundreds of Palestinians approach the fence.

Another Palestinian, identified as 32-year-old Hamas militant Osama Dueij was also killed by the Israeli military during the clashes.

One Israeli border police officer, Barel Hadaria Shmueli was critically injured during the protests after he was shot in the head by a Hamas militant. He remains in life-threatening condition at Beersheba’s Soroka Hospital.