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Hundreds of Gazans riot on border

Iron Dome fragment hits Sderot home as 2 rockets downed after IDF strikes Strip

Man lightly injured, house damaged by shrapnel; Israeli raids come after fires sparked by incendiary balloons launched from the Strip

View of damage to a house caused by part of an Iron Dome rocket, fired to intercept rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, in the southern Israeli city of Sderot, August 16, 2020. (Flash90)
View of damage to a house caused by part of an Iron Dome rocket, fired to intercept rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, in the southern Israeli city of Sderot, August 16, 2020. (Flash90)

A fragment of an Iron Dome interceptor missile slammed into the yard of a home in the southern city of Sderot and lightly injured a man just after midnight Saturday.

Two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip at southern Israel and were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, the Israel Defense Forces said early Sunday.

The rocket fire came after Israel carried out airstrikes late Saturday in the Gaza Strip, following continued launches into Israel of balloon-borne incendiary devices from the Palestinian enclave and the renewal of nighttime clashes along the border fence.

The rockets triggered sirens in the southern city of Sderot around 1 a.m., sending thousands rushing for shelter.

Two projectiles were shot down by the Iron Dome, the army confirmed.

Police initially said that a rocket struck outside the home in Sderot, but the military on Sunday morning clarified that it was in fact a piece of an interceptor missile.

A 58-year-old man was lightly hurt by glass, and several people were treated for shock or for minor injuries sustained while running to shelters, medics said.

“Regarding the report of a rocket strike near a home in Sderot last night, an IDF investigation found that it appears to be fragments of an interceptor that fell while intercepting the rockets fired from the Gaza Strip at Israeli territory,” the military said on Sunday.

The Israel Defense Forces said earlier that warplanes targeted “a military installation and underground infrastructure of the Hamas terrorist group,” adding that it holds the terror organization responsible for any violence from the Strip.

The strikes on several Hamas sites came in retaliation for the airborne attacks, as well as riots along the border, the army said.

Gazans protest at the border with Israel, August 15, 2020 (Channel 12 screenshot)

The raids came as the Hamas-linked news site said some 800 Palestinians clashed with Israeli troops on the border as part of “night confusion units,” which have previously held violent demonstrations along the security fence but haven’t been active in recent months.

Some of the Palestinians threw explosive devices at Israeli soldiers, Hebrew media said.

The Hamas-run health ministry said two people were injured by live bullets, apparently during the border clashes, and were taken to al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City for treatment.

The renewal of the late night border clashes came amid growing tensions between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist terror group that controls Gaza.

Saturday marked the fifth consecutive evening Israel launched strikes in Gaza, after at least 19 fires were sparked in the south during the day by airborne incendiary objects flown from the Strip.

Earlier, Hamas warned of a “dangerous escalation” after two children were reportedly lightly injured in the Israeli strikes.

Illustrative: An IDF soldier stands in front of a fire near Kibbutz Be’eri in southern Israel that was sparked by a balloon-borne incendiary device launched from the Gaza Strip, August 13, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Makeshift firebombs attached to bunches of balloons or kites ignited over 100 fires in Israel in the past week, setting alight agricultural fields and brush. Officials said most were small fires, but some caused damage.

According to a report Friday in the Haaretz daily, Israel has communicated it won’t allow the transfer of a monthly sum of $30 million from Qatar to Gaza unless the spate of incendiary balloon attacks stops.

The report, which did not cite a source, added that the Qatari envoy himself is “not thrilled” to go to the Strip until the escalation is over.

Palestinian analysts say attacks from Gaza often aim to pressure Israel to give the green light for the transfer of the Qatari financial aid into the Strip.

In response to the attacks, Israel has already closed its cargo crossing with the Strip, with exceptions made for food and humanitarian aid, and also reduced the territory’s permitted coastal fishing zone.

The practice of launching balloon-borne incendiary and explosive devices from the Gaza Strip toward Israel has waxed and waned over the past two years, with an uptick since the end of last week.

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