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Israeli warplanes attack Hamas sites in Gaza Strip over fire balloons, demos

Fire billows from Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, Palestine, on May 10, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Israeli fighter jets have launched airstrikes against positions belonging to Hamas in the Gaza Strip after Palestinians launched incendiary balloons from the besieged enclave into occupied territories and hundreds of people staged demonstrations along the fence to condemn Tel Aviv's crippling blockade and repeated acts of aggression.

Israeli “fighter jets struck a Hamas military compound used for manufacturing weapons and training as well as an entrance to a tunnel adjacent to Jabalia” refugee camp, the Israeli army said in a statement on Sunday.

“The strikes were in response to Hamas launching incendiary balloons and the violent riots that took place yesterday,” it said.

The official Palestinian Wafa news agency reported that Israeli fighter jets attacked with four missiles a location at Shuhada Street south of Gaza City early on Sunday, causing fire at the site. No injuries were reported.

Israeli warplanes also struck a farmland near the town of Beit Hanoun, north of the Gaza Strip, causing physical damage but no injuries.

Witnesses said they saw flames of fire and black smoke coming out of the targeted posts.

They also heard the buzz of Israeli drones and fighter jets hovering over the Gaza Strip, which was followed by several explosions.

Gaza siege cause of tensions 

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum held Israel fully responsible for the consequences of its ongoing blockade against the Gaza Strip, and deterioration of the humanitarian crisis in the enclave.

Barhoum said in a statement that the Tel Aviv regime’s aggressive policies against Gaza are creating an atmosphere of escalating tensions and eventual confrontation.

He lauded the steadfastness and resilience of the Palestinian nation in the face of the Israeli occupation, siege and settlements in the occupied West Bank as well as the Gaza Strip.

The Hamas spokesman stressed that Palestinians will never accept the policies of the occupying Israeli regime and its violation of their national rights, and will continue to fight for their deprived rights.

He called on all parties to fulfill their responsibilities and pressure Israel to end its oppressive and unjust siege of the Gaza Strip.

Barhoum stressed that no calm or stability will be achieved as long as Palestinians do not have a free and dignified life.

The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza said Saturday that 11 Palestinians were wounded in clashes with Israeli troops near the fence.

According to the ministry, three of those wounded by live fire were in moderate condition.

The other eight are said to have been lightly hurt from rubber bullets or stun grenades. 

The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli blockade since 2007 when Hamas took control of the coastal enclave.  

The siege has inflicted severe hardship on residents. The poverty rate among Gaza’s population has reached 53 percent, while “extreme poverty” stands at 33.8 percent, according to statistics by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS).

About 68 percent of families do not have enough to eat, while 80 percent of Gazans are dependent on aid.

The area’s unemployment rate stands at 45.1 percent, according to PCBS.

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