Hamas Operatives Launch Incendiary Balloons Into Israel

Masked Palestinians prepare flammable objects to be flown towards Israel from the northern Gaza Strip, near the Israeli-Gaza border, on September 4, 2021. Photo by Atia Mohammed/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** פלסטינים רצועת עזה גבול ישראל בלונים בלוני תבערה

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Gaza’s ruling Hamas group on Saturday launched over a dozen of incendiary balloons into Israel, seeking to ratchet up pressure in order to ease a crippling blockade of the territory.

Photos and videos posted online showed masked Hamas-affiliated operatives holding pictures of Gazans killed in recent clashes with Israeli forces while they launched balloons in the direction of Israel.

There were no immediate reports of any fires in southern Israel. Israel’s new government has compared the balloons, which have sparked a series of wildfires in recent weeks, to rocket fire. It often responds to the launches with nighttime airstrikes on Hamas targets.

Hamas has also staged a series of violent demonstrations along the Israeli border in recent weeks calling for an end to the blockade, which is also conducted by Gaza’s western neighbor, Egypt.

In an angry statement, a Hamas spokesman said Saturday that the Gazan people were determined to “break the siege” and no longer accepted the two countries’ “gradual easing” of the blockade.

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