Israel carries out airstrikes on Gaza as tensions on border escalate

A violent protest at Gaza’s perimeter fence prompted air strikes

Eleanor Sly
Sunday 22 August 2021 12:29
<p>Saturday’s demonstration was organised by Gaza’s Hamas rulers</p>

Saturday’s demonstration was organised by Gaza’s Hamas rulers

Israeli military have carried out airstrikes on several Palestinian militant weapons sites in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces said the action was in response to a demonstration at the perimeter fence which became violent, leading to an Israeli police officer being critically injured.

Hundreds of Palestinians gathered to take part in a demonstration on Saturday which was organised by Gaza’s Hamas rulers. The attack was intended to draw attention to the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the territory, but grew increasingly violent with a number of individuals injured, including a teenage girl.

In total, at least 24 Palestinians were injured by gunfire from the Israeli side, according to the Gaza health ministry. These included a 13-year-old. An Israeli Border Police officer was also critically injured, having been shot.

Dozens of people approached the fortified border fence, throwing rocks and explosives towards Israeli soldiers from behind a black smoke screen, which was caused by a number of burning tyres.

In a statement, the army said that fighter planes from Israel had hit “four weapons and storage manufacturing sites” which belong to Gaza’s Hamas rulers. This was in response to the violent demonstrations. They added that the military had deployed extra troops to the region near to the border with Gaza.

There were no immediate reports of injuries in the air strikes.

Addressing Cabinet on Sunday, prime minister Naftali Bennett said Israel “will settle the score with those who harm our soldiers and Israeli civilians”, adding that the military is “ready for any scenario”.

Bitter enemies Israel and Hamas have fought four wars against each other and have had countless skirmishes since the Islamic militant group seized control of Gaza in a 2007 coup, just one year after having won a Palestinian election.

Most recently, an 11-day war in May ended with an inconclusive ceasefire while 254 people were killed in Gaza. These included 67 children and 39 women, according to the Gaza health ministry.

Hamas acknowledged that 80 of its militants died.

In Israel, 12 civilians, including two children, and one soldier were killed.

Gaza is currently kept under a blockade by Israel with heavy restrictions on movement both in and out of the territory, home to two million Palestinians. Restrictions are also maintained by Egypt on the enclave.

Both countries say that restrictions are in place due to threats from Hamas.

Additional reporting by AP

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