IDF’s Gaza simulation drill puts Hamas on notice

IDF’s Gaza simulation drill puts Hamas on notice

It comes days after Israel suspended imports and exports through the crossing except for basic humanitarian supplies - fuel, food, some medical equipment and medicine, livestock, and animal feed - in order to put pressure on Hamas.

Israel says it has no interest is engaging in another war with Hamas, but says it will no longer tolerate the flying of incendiary kites and balloons into Israel.

A Palestinian official who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity said Egypt and other worldwide players were holding contacts with Israel and Gaza to restore calm. The fishing zone enforced by Israel off the Gaza Strip will also be further reduced from six nautical miles to three.

While the groups acknowledged that the damage incendiary kites and balloons from Gaza have caused Israeli fields and farmland was "severe", they said the Israeli response "cannot be to deliberately harm innocent civilians". Dozens of rockets were also fired from Gaza into Israel.

Following the Saturday escalation by Hamas and other Gaza-based terror groups, the IDF responded with what was described as the most extensive Israeli bombing campaign against terror targets inside the Gaza Strip since Operation Protective Edge in 2014, The Times of Israel reported Sunday.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan warned that "we are seeing an obvious trend" and that Hamas operatives "are constantly increasing their kites' range and they are using ‎other airborne devices" which "may even reach Judea ‎and Samaria", also known as the West Bank.

The Israeli military said Friday's protesters were throwing burning tyres, stones, explosive devices and fire bombs at its soldiers and that one of its officers was wounded by a Palestinian grenade hurled across the border fence.

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Shuli Mualem Refaeli, a legislator from Bennett's Jewish Home party, said on Army Radio "it is a law about Breaking the Silence and other organizations whose aim is to libel Israeli soldiers and the State of Israel".

From right, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, Military Secretary to the Prime Minister Brig.

There have been no Israeli fatalities during the so-called "Great March of Return" demonstrations but big tracts of Israeli land have been ravaged by fires set by blazing kites or helium balloons carrying burning rags floated over from Gaza.

Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade on Gaza for over a decade in an attempt to weaken Hamas.

United Nations officials and rights activists have repeatedly called for Israel to lift the blockade against Gaza, citing deteriorating humanitarian conditions.

The tightened restrictions follow months of clashes and Hamas-staged protests along the Israel-Gaza border.

More than 130 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the protests.

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