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Fears of War Run High on Gaza Border


Israeli firefighters attempt to extinguish fire burning scrubland in area where Palestinians have been causing blazes by flying kites and balloons loaded with flammable materials, July 20m 2018.

Nearly four months of Palestinian protests on the border of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and Israel are raising concerns of yet another war.

Israel has been fighting brush fires on the Gaza border every day for more than three months, thanks to a primitive but effective new Palestinian weapon. Militants are sending burning kites across the frontier, torching vast areas of Israeli farmland and forests.

Now, Israel is running out of patience. That became clear a week ago when Israel launched its heaviest air strikes on the ruling Islamic militant group Hamas since the Gaza War in 2014.

Smoke raises in the background following an Israeli airstrike hits a governmental building in Gaza City , Saturday, July 14, 2018.
Smoke raises in the background following an Israeli airstrike hits a governmental building in Gaza City , Saturday, July 14, 2018.

Yisrael Katz, a member of the security cabinet, said Israel has drawn a red line: It will not allow terror from Gaza to continue, whether it is attack tunnels, rockets or kites.

An activist in the Hamas “kite unit” told Israel Television that there is only one way to stop the raging fires: The crippling Israeli blockade imposed on Gaza 11 years ago must be lifted.

He said the Palestinians are demanding the free flow of food, medicine and fuel, which Israel has curtailed in response to the flaming kite attacks.

Despite this defiance, the Israeli pressure tactics could be having an effect. Ibrahim al-Madhoun, a Palestinian journalist with close ties to Hamas, says the group is rethinking its strategy.

He said stopping the burning kites may be necessary to avert all-out war with Israel.

Hamas and Israel have fought three wars in the past decade, and the prevention of the fourth might come down to who blinks first.

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