Israel will not accept more burning kites: Lieberman

Source: Xinhua| 2018-07-15 18:02:43|Editor: Yurou
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JERUSALEM, July 15 (Xinhua) -- Israel's Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned Hamas Sunday that Israel will react forcibly to a continuation of incendiary kites from Gaza, amidst the first day of a fragile ceasefire.

Hamas, an Islamist Palestinian organization that runs the Gaza Strip, and the Islamic Jihad, a Gaza-based militant group, agreed Saturday with Israel on a ceasefire after two days of one of the worst flare-ups since Israel's 2014 military campaign in the Palestinian enclave.

Israel struck Gaza dozens of times with fighter jets, killing at least two teenagers, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. At the same time, Gaza militants launched about 100 mortar bombs at Israel, wounding three people, according to Israel's emergency health service.

Despite the ceasefire, by 11:00 (8:00 GMT), three burning balloons sparked fires into southern Israel, according to officials with regional councils in the south.

Anonymous officials in Gaza told the Hebrew-language Ynet news site that the ceasefire does not immediately include the launching of the burning kites and balloons launched from Gaza as part of a protest against the 12-year Israeli blockade on the district.

The officials said that the frequency of the balloons will "gradually decrease" from 20 balloons on Sunday, to 10 on Monday, and less on the next day.

In a statement ahead of Israel's weekly cabinet meeting, Lieberman said Israel will not accept any more burning balloons or kites, warning that "Hamas has suffered a severe blow, and I hope it will draw conclusions, otherwise it will pay a heavy price."

The escalation came amidst weekly rallies near the fence separating between Israel and the Palestinian enclave. Israel have killed at least 133 Palestinians since the protest, called the "Great March of Return" began on March 30, according to Gaza Health Ministry.

Gaza militants have sent burning kites and helium balloons, which set fires in southern Israel's arid farmlands. At least 32,000 dunams (32 square kilometers) of farmland and forest have been consumed by the kites.