Saturday, December 2, 2023

Israeli military strikes Gaza Strip amid protests at border

The Israeli military has conducted air attacks on the blockaded Gaza Strip, where demonstrators have had confrontations for days with Israeli troops along the separation fence.

The military said the drone strikes targeted two military posts belonging to Hamas movement governing the Gaza Strip, while a tank hit another post from which shots were fired on troops confronting protesters.

The Hamas-affiliated radio station Aqsa reported two people had been wounded in the strikes.

In al-Maghazi refugee camp, El Sayed said drones had appeared overhead in a matter of minutes, dropping stun grenades and tear gas canisters on the heavily populated area.

Meanwhile, tanks positioned on the border shot artillery shells at the Palestinian enclave, the correspondent added.

“It seems that Israel is responding to the incendiary balloons sent by the protesters across the border,” she said.

The protesters were evacuating the area as a result of the attacks, the reporter added.

Dozens of people have been injured, according to the Ministry of Health.

Israel shut the Beit Hanouna (called “Erez” by Israel) crossing with Gaza last week in advance of the Rosh Hashanah Jewish holiday, preventing thousands of workers from getting to their jobs in Israel and the West Bank. The closure was extended after days of border demonstrations in which Israeli troops opened fire on stone-throwing protesters.

Approximately 18,000 Gaza Palestinians have permits from Israeli authorities to work outside the blockaded enclave, providing a vital injection of cash amounting to some $2m a day to the impoverished territory’s economy.

Demonstrators along the Gaza separation fence have hurled stones as well as improvised explosive devices, while Israeli troops have attacked with tear gas and live fire.

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down more than a decade ago, and violence has soared over the past year and a half, with Israel carrying out frequent military raids in the occupied West Bank.

In July, Israel launched one of its biggest attacks on the occupied West Bank, killing at least 12 Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camp and wounding at least 100 more.

In response to rockets fired from Gaza after Israel ended its large-scale offensive in Jenin, Israeli fighter jets struck the besieged enclave, drawing condemnation from Iran, Egypt, Jordan and the Arab League, among others.

Friday’s attack on the blockaded strip came shortly after as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the United Nations General Assembly that Israel was “at the cusp” of a historic breakthrough leading to a peace agreement with Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in an interview with Fox News this week that the two sides were inching closer to an agreement, without providing much detail about the US-led negotiations.

He declined to specify what exactly the Saudis are seeking for the Palestinians, but said they “could greatly benefit from a broader peace.”

The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain normalised their ties with Israel as part of the Abraham Accords in September 2020. Since then, they have deepened their relations across a number of economic domains, as well as defence.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has also told the United Nations General Assembly that Middle East peace will not be achievable until the Palestinians are granted full rights.

“Those who think that peace can prevail in the Middle East without the Palestinian people enjoying their full, legitimate national rights would be mistaken,” Abbas told the UN’s annual gathering on Thursday.

The veteran 87-year-old leader made a new appeal to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to call an international conference on creating a Palestinian state.

A UN conference “may be the last opportunity to salvage the two-state solution and to prevent the situation from deteriorating more seriously and threatening the security and stability of our region and the entire world”, Abbas added.

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