Israel strikes Hamas Gaza post over kite attacks

Gaza City (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) –


Israel struck a facility of the Gaza Strip's Hamas rulers overnight, the movement's military wing said on Sunday, with the Israeli army saying it was reacting to kite-borne fire bombings.

A military spokeswoman said it was a direct response to a new Palestinian tactic of flying kites with firebombs attached across the Gaza border into Israel to set farmers' fields alight.

"Last night an aircraft struck a terror post belonging to the Hamas terror organisation adjacent to the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip," a spokeswoman told AFP, without describing the target.

Hamas's Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades military wing said in a statement that it was a border observation post and that nobody was injured in the attack.

"The strike was in response to an incident that took place yesterday in which terrorists launched burning incendiaries in an attempt to light fires in Israeli territory," the Israeli spokeswoman said.

Israeli media have in recent days reported significant damage to farms due to kite-flown Molotov cocktails, though the devices face difficult odds in making it across the fence while staying alight.

Forty-nine Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since protests and clashes began along the Gaza border on March 30, and hundreds of others have been wounded by gunfire.

Demonstrators are demanding the right to return to their homes seized by Israel in 1948, which Israel argues would effectively spell the end of their country as a Jewish state.

No Israelis have been hurt in the weeks of protests and the military has faced international criticism for its use of live ammunition.

The Israeli military spokeswoman made a point of adding that the latest strike had no connection to a so-far unexplained explosion in the central Gaza Strip on Saturday which killed six Hamas fighters.

Ezzedine al-Qassam said the dead were all its members and blamed Israel for the explosion, without providing details or proof.

Some past explosions in the Gaza Strip have resulted from the accidental detonation of explosive materials belonging to militant groups.