Gaza balloon attack: Israeli tank hit Hamas

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Head of Hamas political bureau said it will not back down from wanting to end the blockade on the Gaza Strip.


The Israeli army says its tanks have hit Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday after Palestinian balloon attacks across the border continued.

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

There were no immediate reports of casualties from any of the incidents.

Palestinian sources said an Israeli artillery shell was fired towards a field control point east of Khan Younis, and another shell east of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip.

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According to the Israeli fire brigade, the fire bombs – crude devices fitted to balloons, inflated condoms or plastic bags inflated with helium – have triggered more than 400 blazes in southern Israel.

The Israeli army has carried out attacks on Gaza almost daily since August 6, along with further tightening a devastating blockade it has imposed on the Palestinian territory since 2007.

Under the new measures, it banned the entry of fuel for Gaza’s sole power plant, plunging it into darkness.

The Gaza Strip has a population of two million people, more than half of whom live in poverty, according to the World Bank.

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The head of the Hamas political bureau, Ismail Haniya, said his movement – which controls the Gaza Strip – would not back down from wanting to end the Israeli blockade.

“Our decision and the decision of our people is to go ahead with ending this unjust siege in all its forms,” Haniya said in a statement issued by his office early on Sunday.

“The leadership of the movement is closely following the current situation in the Gaza Strip in terms of communications and mediation carried out by many parties to work to break and end the siege on the strip.”

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 easing its 13-year blockade of Gaza in return for calm on the frontier between the two.

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

Sources close to the Qatari delegation said Israeli officials had told al-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 incendiary balloons.

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

Under those terms, Israel had said it would take other measures to alleviate unemployment of more than 50 percent in the territory of some two million people. Those have yet to materialise.


#Newsworthy…

Israeli Trouble: Palestinian group says peace deal reach

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Office of Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar in Gaza says agreement has been reached to ‘end aggression against our people’.


Hamas, the Palestinian group running the besieged Gaza Strip, has announced it has reached a Qatari-mediated deal to end the latest escalation of violence with Israel.

After talks with Qatari envoy Mohammed el-Emadi, “an understanding was reached to rein in the latest escalation and end [Israeli] aggression against our people”, the office of Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar said on Monday.

There was no immediate comment by Israel.

The Israeli army has carried out attacks on Gaza almost daily since August 6 in what it says is a response to the airborne incendiary devices and, less frequently, rockets launched into southern Israel.

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The fire balloons are widely seen as an attempt by Hamas to improve the terms of an informal truce under which Israel committed to easing its 13-year-old crippling blockade in return for calm.

But so far, Israel’s response has been to tighten the blockade.

It has banned Gaza fishermen from going to sea and closed its goods crossing with the territory, prompting the closure of the Palestinian territory’s sole power plant for want of fuel.

What Hamas says about the agreement is that it will stop incendiary balloon launches as well as what it calls its night-time confusion operations where groups go along the fence and throw explosives and cause disruption,” said Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett, reporting from Jerusalem.

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“In return, it says that Israel is undertaking to go back to the pre-escalation situation which means allowing fishermen out into the Mediterranean, easing the restriction on goods coming in and also presumably the restoration of fuel supplies to Gaza’s only power station.”

Monday’s announcement came amid a flurry diplomatic activity from Qatar whose envoy delivered the latest tranche of $30m in aid Gaza before holding talks with Israeli officials in Tel Aviv.

Sources close to the Qatari delegation said the Israelis told al-Emadi they were willing to resume fuel deliveries for the power plant and ease their blockade – if there was an end to the fire balloons.

Israel has bombed and carried out attacks on Gaza almost daily since August 6 [Mohammed Shana/Reuters]

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

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Mediation efforts have grown more urgent in recent days as authorities in Gaza have detected the first cases of local transmission of the coronavirus. Hamas has imposed a lockdown in the coastal enclave, which is home to two million Palestinians.

Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on Gaza after Hamas seized power from rival Palestinian forces in 2007. Israel says the blockade is needed to keep Hamas from expanding its arsenal, but critics view it as a form of collective punishment.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars and several smaller battles since the closure was imposed.

The restrictions have pushed Gaza’s economy to the brink of collapse, leaving more than half the population unemployed, and years of war and isolation have left the healthcare system ill-equipped to cope with a major outbreak.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Nigeria reports 143 cases; total infections tops 54,000.

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Nigeria reports 143 COVID-19 cases as total infections hit 54,008. No death case recorded.

Plateau leads with 35 cases, Kaduna seconded with 21 cases followed by Lagos State – 19

Benue, Borno and Sokoto State reports the lowest COVID-19 cases – 1.

The single day cases of 143 was provided by 18 Nigerian States out of 37.

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Stands•

143 new cases of #COVID19Nigeria;

Plateau-35
Kaduna-21
Lagos-19
FCT-13
Ebonyi-9
Adamawa-7
Enugu-7
Katsina-7
Edo-6
Kwara-5
Osun-3
Anambra-2
Kano-2
Niger-2
Ogun-2
Benue-1
Borno-1
Sokoto-1

54,008 confirmed
41,638 discharged
1,013 deaths


#Newsworthy…