Israel Strikes Group Launching Incendiary Balloons From Gaza

The Israeli military said on Friday morning that it struck a group of terrorists that had launched incendiary balloons from the northern Gaza Strip toward Israel.

Palestinian reports said the attack targeted Beit Hanoun and wounded one.

Meanwhile, Gaza’s Health Ministry said a 19-year-old Palestinian man died of wounds he had sustained in clashes along the border on July 14. The ministry identified the man as Amjad Hamdona, whose death brings the amount of demonstrators killed along the border to 172.

>> Sick and Stuck in the Strip: How Leaving Gaza Became Mission Impossible

Protests are expected to resume along the border later on Friday. The organizing committee of the marches has called for mass participation under the slogan: “We are returning despite your wrath and fury, Trump.”

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“The Palestinian people insist on their rights, including the right of return and the continuation of the nonviolent marches,” said a statement from the organizers.

The Trump administration announced last Friday that it decided to cut $200 million from the aid budget to the Palestinians. The cut is expected to cause a deterioration in the Strip’s humanitarian situation. U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday that the cut is meant to pressure the Palestinians to return to American-led negotiations with Israel.

In addition to the cut, reports last week said Washington was planning to remove the "right of return" from the issues being negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians. A State Department official later denied the report.

Friday’s protests are expected to be better attended and more intense than those of the past two weeks due to the lack of progress in negotiations to ease the blockade on Gaza and for a long-term cease-fire, sources in Gaza said.
The chairman of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, said this week that the border marches have applied pressure on Israel, adding that mediators have visited the Strip almost daily, including the UN’s special envoy to the Middle East, Nickolay Mladenov.

Despite the fact that Hamas reduced friction with Israel over the past three weeks to provide an opportunity for the talks to succeed, Mladenov has not visited the Strip, nor met with Hamas leaders.