Explosives hurled at Israeli soldiers in late-night Gaza clashes
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Explosives hurled at Israeli soldiers in late-night Gaza clashes

Hundreds of Palestinians take part in fresh border riots following Friday’s mass protests in which 7 Gazans said killed, over 100 improvised bombs thrown at troops

Palestinians throw stones toward Israeli forces during clashes along border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, east of Gaza City, on September 28, 2018. (AFP Photo/Said Khatib)
Palestinians throw stones toward Israeli forces during clashes along border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, east of Gaza City, on September 28, 2018. (AFP Photo/Said Khatib)

Hundreds of Palestinians took part in clashes along the Gaza border Sunday night, hurling explosive devices at Israeli soldiers and attempting to breach the security fence.

No Israel Defense Forces troops were reported injured in the violent protests, while at least 10 Palestinians were said injured by Israeli fire, according to Israel Radio.

An army spokesperson said soldiers were using riot dispersal methods and live fire in accordance with IDF regulations.

Palestinians taking part in the clashes burned tires and threw grenades, improvised explosive devices, firecrackers and rocks at security forces, Channel 10 news reported, with dozens of explosives estimated to have been thrown toward Israeli troops.

The network said the rioters attempted to target Israeli troops working to prevent breaches of the border and that loud explosions were heard in parts of southern Israel near the Gaza Strip due to the hurling of explosives.

Earlier Sunday, firefighters worked to extinguish two blazes near Gaza sparked by airborne incendiary devices launched from the Palestinian enclave, a spokesman for the Fire and Rescue Services said.

Police said sappers also located and neutralized an arson balloon on Highway 35, which caused no damage.

The latest violence came after over 100 improvised bombs and grenades were hurled at Israeli troops during clashes Friday at the Gaza border, the military said Saturday. The army released footage of the violent demonstrations, which it said were the worst in two months, depicting attempts to breach and sabotage the security fence.

In Gaza on Saturday, funerals were held for the seven Palestinians killed in the previous day’s violence, including two teen boys.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians protested along the Gaza border fence, throwing hand grenades, bombs, rocks, and burning tires in clashes with IDF troops, who responded with tear gas, live fire, and air strikes.

The protest was one of the largest and most violent in recent weeks and comes following the break down of indirect talks with Israel over a ceasefire and warnings that the terror group Hamas, which rules Gaza, was gearing up for another conflict.

Seven people were killed, including a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old, and at least 210 Palestinians were wounded, including an 11-year-old boy, who was in serious condition, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry. It said 90 of the wounded were hit by live fire.

The ministry identified three of the dead as Nasser Mosabih, 12, Mohammed al-Houm, 14, and Iyad Al-Shaar, 18, and said they were shot. The other four were in their twenties.

A photo of 11-year-old Nasser Musabeh, who was reportedly shot and killed by Israeli troops during clashes Friday on the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, is displayed at the classroom in his school in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, on September 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Sanad Abu Latifa)

The IDF said about 20,000 Palestinians took part in the violent protests, spread out among a few locations along the Gaza security fence.

In two cases IAF aircraft carried out strikes against grenade throwers, the army said, noting there were no injuries to IDF forces. One of the strikes was on a Hamas post, the army said.

The riots have increased in recent weeks, going from a weekly event to near nightly protests since Hamas halted indirect talks with Israel aimed at a ceasefire. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza has also worsened and reconciliation talks with the Palestinian Authority have broken down.

Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and actively calls for Israel’s destruction, has increased the pace of rioting and demonstrations against Israel, and created new units tasked with sustaining tensions along the border fence including during nighttime and early morning hours.

Almost every evening, thousands of Gazans now gather for violent demonstrations at the Erez crossing and elsewhere, as part of Hamas’s attempts to signal to Israel that it wants an economic solution to the Gaza Strip.

The Egyptian efforts to reconcile Hamas and Fatah have not borne fruit at this stage, and the possibility of a long-term ceasefire with Israel has apparently stalled, Thursday’s analysis by Times of Israel’s Avi Issacaharoff said. The economic situation has once again reached an unprecedented low, stoking fury among Gazans that is being directed against Israel, the PA, Hamas, and even Egypt.

IDF footage of rioting on the Gaza border on September 28, 2018 (Courtesy IDF)

On Friday, the Haaretz daily quoted Israeli security sources as saying that Hamas is preparing for war, bolstering its forces significantly over the past few weeks.

That assessment is not new, IDF sources told Haaretz, having warned repeatedly that the situation is more likely to escalate than to calm down. However, recently the army noted that the terror group appears to actively be readying itself for a limited conflict with Israel. It is only a question of when Hamas will decide to go to war, the paper said.

The surge of violence in Gaza began in March with a series of protests along the border that were dubbed the “March of Return.” The clashes have included regular rock and Molotov cocktail attacks on troops, as well as shooting and IED attacks aimed at IDF soldiers and attempts to breach the border fence.

Gaza protesters have also launched incendiary kites and balloons into Israel, sparking fires that have destroyed forests, burned crops, and killed livestock. Over 7,000 acres of land have been burned, causing millions of shekels in damages, according to Israeli officials. Some balloons have carried improvised explosive devices.

Israeli fire has killed at least 140 Palestinians during the protests since late March, according to AP figures. Hamas has acknowledged that dozens of the fatalities were its members.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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