Israeli air strike kills Hamas man in Gaza

Palestinians carry the body of Mohammed Abu Shammala, one of three senior Hamas commanders who was killed in an Israeli air strike, during his funeral in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip August 21, 2014. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa


GAZA: An Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip killed a member of the Islamist militant Hamas group on Thursday and wounded three others, Hamas sources and medical officials said.

The Israeli military confirmed it had carried out an air strike targeting Hamas militants who were about to launch balloons rigged with flammable material over the border into Israel.

Hamas sources said the casualties were security men working at an observation post near Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip.

Fires caused by incendiary helium balloons and kites launched by Palestinians in Gaza have ravaged tracts of farmland in Israel in recent months. Israel has vowed to stop the attacks, even at the risk of wider conflict.

Weekly clashes at the Israel-Gaza border have kept tensions at a high for months. More than 130 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces during protests at the frontier held every week since March.

Israel says Hamas has been orchestrating the demonstrations, dubbed The Great March of Return, to provide cover for militants’ cross-border attacks. Hamas denies this.

Cross-border violence surged on Saturday when Palestinian militants fired more than 100 rockets into Israel and the Israeli military carried out dozens of air strikes in the Hamas-ruled enclave.