Israeli tanks shell Hamas positions in blockaded Gaza
Smoke rises after Israeli warplanes hit areas targeting positions of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Palestinian resistance group Hamas on August 21, 2020 in Khan Yunis, Gaza. (AA)
Israeli tanks have shelled positions of Gaza’s ruling Hamas resistance, the army and Palestinian security sources said, hours after a rocket was launched at southern Israel.
A statement from the Israeli military said that “tanks targeted Hamas military posts in the southern Gaza Strip” on Saturday in response to the Friday fire.
The rocket, which set off sirens in southern Israel, was intercepted by air defences without causing any casualties or damage.
Gaza security sources said the Israeli tank fire on Saturday targeted Hamas observation posts east of Rafah and east of Khan Yunis, causing no casualties.
Positions belonging to the Izzd ad Din al Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, in Khan Younis and Rafah cities were hit by missiles launched by Israeli jets, Anadolu Agency reported.
Ongoing exchanges of fire
Israel has bombed besieged Gaza almost daily since August 6 in retaliation for the launch of balloons fitted with firebombs, or, less frequently, rockets.
On Thursday night, a dozen rockets were fired at Israel, which responded with air strikes on a rocket manufacturing plant and underground infrastructure.
Israeli warplanes bombed Gaza again on Friday.
Israeli firefighters meanwhile continued to put out blazes on farmland and scrub set alight by incendiary balloons launched from the Palestinian enclave.
With tensions high, Israel has closed its lone commercial crossing with Gaza, banned sea access, and halted fuel imports into the coastal strip, causing its only power plant to shut down earlier this week.
An Egyptian delegation was trying to broker a return to an informal truce.
Egypt has acted to calm repeated flare-ups in recent years to prevent any repetition of the three wars Israel and Hamas have fought since 2008.
“The Egyptians, the Qataris and (UN Middle East envoy) Nickolay Mladenov have stepped up their efforts in order to restore calm, but calm can only come if Israel agrees to demands presented by Hamas and other factions,” a Palestinian official familiar with the efforts told Reuters.
According to a source close to Hamas, the movement wants the extension of an industrial zone in the east of Gaza and the construction of a new power line.
Hamas also wants the number of work permits in Israel issued to Gazans to be doubled to 10,000 once anti-coronavirus restrictions are lifted, the source said.
Israel and Hamas have fought three wars and several smaller battles over the last 13 years. Neither side is believed to be seeking war, but any casualties could ignite a wider conflict.
Source: TRTWorld and agencies