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Israel closes Gaza fishing zone after nightly clashes


A Palestinian boy inspects the damage to his family’s home following Israeli airstrikes on the Buriej refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, Saturday, Aug.15, 2020.


Israel closed the fishing zone off the Gaza coast on Sunday after a night of cross-border fighting with Palestinian militants, in the most intense escalation of violence in recent months.

Palestinian militants in Gaza fired two rockets into southern Israel after Israeli airstrikes hit targets of Hamas, the armed group that controls the territory.

The Iron Dome anti-aircraft system intercepted the two rockets launched by militants in Gaza, according to the Israeli army. However, the police said that the remains of the projectiles damaged a house in the town of Sderot, and medical personnel treated a 58-year-old man for minor injuries caused by a shattered glass.

The Israeli military said its shelling was in response to explosive balloons thrown across the border by a group affiliated with Hamas, and attempts by Palestinian protesters to drop explosives at the fence separating Israel from Gaza, as well as at the soldiers deployed along the barrier.

Dozens of Palestinians participated in protests along the fence. According to the Israeli Army, the protesters “burned tires, threw explosive devices and grenades at the security fence and tried to approach it.”

Two Palestinians were injured by Israeli fire on the protesters, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

Israel holds Hamas, the Islamist group that rules the Gaza Strip, responsible for all attacks originating from the Palestinian territory.

In recent days, incendiary balloons launched from the Gaza Strip have caused extensive damage to Israeli fields. The launch of these devices has coincided with criticism from Hamas and other Palestinian factions of the United Arab Emirates for agreeing to establish formal ties with Israel.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz ordered the closure of the fishing zone off the coast of Gaza until further notice in response to rocket fire.

Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade on the Gaza Strip since Hamas took control of the region by force in 2007. Since then, Israel has fought three wars with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The two sides have for the most part adhered to an informal truce and fighting has almost completely ceased since the coronavirus pandemic began.