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After Incendiary Balloons Launched, Israel Breaks Ceasefire

The balloons, in turn, were launched from Gaza in response to an Israeli march
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 16, 2021 12:05 AM CDT

(Newser) – Israeli aircraft carried out a series of airstrikes at militant sites in the Gaza Strip early Wednesday, the first such raids since a shaky cease-fire ended the war with Hamas last month, the AP reports. The airstrikes targeted facilities used by Hamas militants for meetings to plan attacks, the Israeli military said, blaming the group for any act of violence emanating from Gaza. There were no immediate reports of casualties. On Tuesday, hundreds of Israeli ultranationalists, some chanting “Death to Arabs,” paraded in east Jerusalem in a show of force that threatened to spark renewed violence. Palestinians in Gaza responded by launching incendiary balloons that caused at least 10 fires in southern Israel. The march posed a test for Israel's fragile new government as well as the tenuous truce that ended last month's 11-day war between Israel and Hamas.

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Palestinians consider the march, meant to celebrate Israel's capture of east Jerusalem in 1967, to be a provocation. Hamas called on Palestinians to “resist” the parade, a version of which helped ignite last month's Gaza war. With music blaring, hundreds of Jewish nationalists gathered and moved in front of Damascus Gate. Most appeared to be young men, and many held blue-and-white Israeli flags as they danced and sang religious songs. At one point, several dozen youths, jumping and waving their hands in their air, chanted: "May your village burn.” The crowd, while boisterous, appeared to be much smaller than during last month's parade. From the Damascus Gate, they proceeded around the Old City to the Western Wall, the holiest place where Jews can pray. Israeli police forcibly removed Palestinian protesters, 33 of whom were injured, CNN reports. (More here on what this could mean for Israel's new government.)

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