- Israeli airstrikes targeted several locations in the Gaza Strip in response to ongoing Palestinian protests along the Gaza-Israel border.
- The protests have escalated into violent clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces.
- The protests include Palestinians engaging in various forms of unrest, including stone throwing, the use of explosive devices, burning tires and, according to the Israeli military, shooting at Israeli soldiers.
Israeli airstrikes hit several targets in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, the country’s military said, after Palestinian protesters converged on the enclave’s border with Israel for a 12th straight day – demonstrations that turned into violent clashes with Israeli security forces.
There were no reports of casualties in Gaza from the Israeli airstrikes.
Israel’s military said it used a drone, a helicopter and a tank to strike multiple positions in northern and southern Gaza belonging to the strip’s Hamas militant leaders in response to “violent unrest” along the Gaza-Israel separation fence. The protests have included Palestinians throwing rocks and explosive devices, burning tires and, according to the Israeli military, shooting at Israeli soldiers.
Palestinian health officials said Israeli forces shot and wounded 11 protesters during Tuesday’s rally.
Hamas, the Islamist militant group that seized control of Gaza in 2007, said young Palestinians organized the protests in response to rising violence in the West Bank and alleged provocations in Jerusalem. In recent days, Palestinians have also floated incendiary kites and balloons along the border into southern Israel, setting fire to farmland and disturbing Israeli civilian communities near Gaza.
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The unrest first erupted earlier this month, shortly after Hamas’ finance ministry announced it was cutting civil servants’ salaries by more than half, deepening the economic crisis in the enclave that has been under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade for the past 16 years.
Under arrangements stemming from earlier ceasefire agreements with Israel, the gas-rich emirate of Qatar pays the salaries of civil servants in the Gaza Strip, provides direct cash transfers to poor families and offers other types of humanitarian aid. . Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Saturday that it has started distributing remittances of $100 to about 100,000 needy families in the impoverished region.
The sudden violence at the separation fence has sparked fears of a wider escalation between Israel and Hamas, which have fought four wars and been engaged in several smaller battles since Hamas seized the territory.
But experts said the violent protests – which have continued with Hamas’s tacit consent for nearly two weeks now – have more to do with Hamas’s efforts to manage the ground and stem the spiraling economic crisis than drag Israel down. in a new round of conflict.
“It’s a tactical way to draw attention to their distress,” Ibrahim Dalalsha, director of the Horizon Center, a Palestinian research group based in the West Bank, said of Hamas. “It is not an escalation but a ‘warm-up’ to put pressure on interested parties who can find money to give to the Hamas government.”
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Israel, he added, is also seeking to limit exchanges with its precision strikes on seemingly abandoned militant outposts – so far avoiding an accident that could escalate into a conflict neither side wants.