Two hurt as Israel hits Gaza targets over 'arson balloons'


According to the Israeli army, some 8,000 Gazans had gathered at different spots along the frontier Friday, attempting to sabotage the Israeli border fence. Israel would also expand the fishing zone for Palestinians off the coast of Gaza. Yaghi and Suri were buried on Saturday.

Israeli fire has taken the lives of at least 157 Palestinians since March 30.

Israel has shut the Kerem Shalom crossing, Gaza's sole commercial access point, as a punitive measure over the launch of incendiary balloons by Palestinian activists from the seaside enclave into Israel, banning all deliveries except food and medicine.

The Israeli military said one of its aircraft fired at two targets in the strip's northern area, describing one of them as "a vehicle that served a terrorist squad for launching arson balloons".

The Egyptian official said Cairo would not let its facilities or territory in the Sinai desert, bordering Gaza, be used to relieve Israel of keeping the Palestinian economy alive.

The Fatah movement had warned Hamas of the danger of a unilateral conclusion of the armistice agreement with Israel in exchange for easing the blockade imposed on the Gaza strip.

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Critics say it amounts to collective punishment of the coastal territory's two million residents. Israel also demands the release of a prisoner said to have mental health issues, thought to be a hostage of Hamas.

Israel says its naval blockade of Gaza is meant to prevent weapons from reaching militant groups, including Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls the Palestinian enclave. Hamas and other resistance groups have linked their fate to Israel freeing Palestinian security detainees.

The newspapers said that Israeli navy Saturday seized a Gaza-bound aid ship while in worldwide sea water and steered it to the Israeli seaport of Asdod.

According to Al-Akhbar, Hamas's leadership, including its Shura Council, or parliament, is expected to convene a vote on the proposal, which was brokered by UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov in meetings with Netanyahu, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, and Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip in recent weeks.

The most serious such incident was in 2010, when Israeli forces raided a Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara, that was leading a flotilla to Gaza.