|A Palestinian protester throws a burning projectile towards Israeli forces during a demonstration east of Gaza City by the border with Israel, on June 15, 2021, to protest the Israeli ultranationalist March of the Flags in Jerusalem's Old City. (Photo by= Mahmud hams / AFP)|
[Asia News = Reporter Reakkana] GAZA CITY: On Wednesday (Jun 16), Israel carried out airstrikes on the Gaza Strip early after militants in the Palestinian territory sent incendiary balloons into the south of the country, in the first major conflict between the two sides since a flare-up in May in which hundreds were killed, AFP reported.
The strikes were the first under the new coalition government headed by Naftali Bennett, who took over on Sunday after ousting former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And they come as more than a thousand ultranationalist demonstrators bearing Israeli flags poured into Jerusalem's flashpoint Old City on Tuesday, with scores of police deployed and international monitors urging calm. Palestinian sources say Israel's air force targeted at least one site east of Khan Yunis in the south of the Gaza Strip, which is home to about two million people. The Israeli Defence Force said that in response to the "arson balloons", its "fighter jets struck military compounds belonging to the Hamas terror organization".
Local firefighters said the incendiary balloons caused around 20 fires in southern Israel. The violence marks the first major flare-up between Israel and Palestinian militants since a ceasefire came into place in May. Meanwhile, the US and UN had called for restraint before the march, which Bennett's new administration had authorised.