Israel continues retaliatory bombing in Gaza
Hamas targets have been under fire from Israel for more than a week in response to relentless fire balloon attacks from Gaza. Warning that Hamas was risking war with its continued fire balloon attacks, Israel has stepped up its rocket launches into Gaza.
For more than a week, exchange of fire has been reported across the border, with Israel warplanes and tanks firing at Hamas targets in response to explosive and arson balloons that are being launched on Israeli settlements. Israeli firefighters said they were putting over 40 fires in a day caused by bundles of balloons carrying explosives or incendiary devices. No casualties have been reported from Gaza so far though Hamas observation posts were reportedly hit.
Israel has sealed off the Karem Abu Salem goods crossing, imposed a ban on fishing off Gaza’s coast and cut off delivery of fuel to the region’s lone power plant. This is expected to exacerbate the already crippling power crisis in the Strip, whose two million residents barely get four hours of power a day. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin issued a warning in which he said this wasn’t a game and if Hamas wanted a war, they will get it.
There has also been a return of the so-called “nightly confusion units” on the Gaza side of the border where people gather in large numbers along the security fence in an attempt to disrupt the daily lives of border guards and residents of bordering towns. During these riots, they trigger blasts and fill the air with pungent smoke. These units that hadn’t been functioning in light of the ceasefire between Hamas and Israel have made a comeback over the past few days.
Egyptian security officials have between shuttling between Israel and Gaza to put an end to the confrontation. The delegation met with Hamas on Monday before leaving to meet officials from Israel and the Palestinian Authority. They are expected to return to Gaza following these meetings. Egypt was among the nations who brokered a truce between Hamas and Israel last year but flare-ups break out often. Hamas says Israel has failed to live up to the obligations of the truce as it has not eased the blockade imposed on Gaza since Hamas’ takeover in 2007. There have been three wars since then.