Israeli tanks intensify attacks on Gaza

By: AFP      Published: 11:16 AM, 30 Aug, 2020
Israeli tanks intensify attacks on Gaza

Israeli tanks hit Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the army said, as Palestinian balloon attacks across the border continued despite international truce efforts.

An early-morning military statement said there had been airborne explosive and incendiary attacks into southern Israel on Saturday.

"In response to the ongoing events, a short while ago... tanks struck military posts belonging to the Hamas terror organization in the southern Gaza Strip," the English-language statement said.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Israel has bombed Gaza almost daily since August 6, in response to the airborne incendiary devices and, less frequently, rockets launched across the border.

The firebombs -- crude devices fitted to balloons, inflated condoms or plastic bags -- have triggered more than 400 blazes in southern Israel, according to the fire brigade.

An Egyptian delegation has been shuttling between the two sides to try to broker a renewal of an informal truce under which Israel committed to ease its 13-year-old blockade of Gaza in return for calm on the border.

It was joined this week by Qatar's Gaza envoy Mohammed el-Emadi who delivered the latest tranche of $30 million in aid to the territory on Tuesday before holding talks with Israeli officials in Tel Aviv.

Sources close to the Qatari delegation said the Israelis had told Emadi they were willing to end a punitive ban on fuel deliveries for Gaza's power plant and ease their blockade if there was an end to the fire balloons.

Financial aid for the impoverished territory from gas-rich Qatar had been a major component of the truce, first agreed in November 2018 and renewed several times since.

But Israel had also said it would take other measures to alleviate unemployment of more than 50 percent in the territory of some two million people.

Disagreements over their implementation have fuelled repeated flare-ups on the border.

These escalated into major conflicts in 2008, 2012 and 2014, and mediators have been striving to prevent a new war.