Israeli tanks shell Gaza after incendiary balloon attacks

GAZA (AFP) – Israeli tanks shelled Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip overnight in response to continued waves of incendiary balloons across the border, the army said yesterday.

The continuing cross-border violence came despite the attempts of Egyptian security to end the flare-up, which has seen two weeks of rocket and fire balloon attacks from Gaza and almost nightly Israeli reprisals.

“Explosive and arson balloons were launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel,” a military statement said.

“In response… tanks targetted military posts belonging to the Hamas terror organisation in the Gaza Strip.”

Gaza security officials said the fire hit Hamas observation posts near al-Maghazi and Al-Bureij refugee camps in the centre of the strip, and the town of Khan Yunis, further south.

There were no casualties, they said.

An Israeli firefighter extinguishes a fire near the kibutz Kissufim, adjacent to the Gaza Strip, caused by an incendiary balloon launched from the strip. PHOTO: AFP

Israel and Hamas, which rules Gaza, have fought three wars since 2008.

In response to the persistent balloon launches, Israel has banned fishing off Gaza’s coast and closed the Kerem Shalom goods crossing, cutting off deliveries of fuel to the territory’s sole power plant.

Power had been in short supply even before the shutdown, with consumers having access to mains electricity for only around eight hours a day.

That will now be cut to just four hours a day using power supplied from the Israeli grid.