On Sunday, August 29, the Israeli military conducted multiple airstrikes on several locations in Gaza after claiming that Palestinians had launched incendiary balloons into Israel during the ongoing anti-blockade protests on the border. The airstrikes, carried out in the early hours of Sunday, purportedly targeted military compounds used by Hamas.
Palestinian news sources reported missile strikes to the south of Gaza city and several others on agricultural land in northern Gaza. No injuries or casualties were reported as a result of the airstrikes.
The airstrikes took place as Palestinians in Gaza continue to stage demonstrations along the border to demand the lifting of the land, air, and sea blockade imposed by Israel since 2007.
On August 29, Egypt reopened the Rafah border in both directions. It is the only border Gaza shares which Israel does not control.
Protests over the weekend
Over the weekend, hundreds of Palestinians held massive demonstrations waving flags and chanting anti-occupation slogans along the border, demanding Israel supply humanitarian aid and reconstruction materials into Gaza. Israeli army soldiers suppressed the protests by attacking the Palestinians from across the border with tear gas canisters, stun grenades, rubber-coated metal bullets, and live ammunition. Palestinians responded to the Israeli violence by burning tires.
Gaza health ministry sources reported that close to 30 Palestinians suffered injuries over the weekend, most of them due to tear gas inhalation. At least four were wounded by live fire.
12-year-old Hassan Abu al-Neil, shot during protests at the border last week, died of his injuries on August 28.
Palestinians have vowed to continue the protests until their demands of lifting the siege and relaxing other restrictions on Gaza are fulfilled. The protesters also demanded implementing the right of return of Palestinian refugees in Gaza, who were internally displaced when Israel was established in 1948.
Palestinian resistance committees in Gaza told news outlets that “the young people will devise new means to force the occupation to yield to the resistance’s demands.” He added that “Israel’s repeated attacks on resistance sites in Gaza would not dissuade the Palestinian people from continuing their struggle to wrest their right to live with freedom and dignity.” In a statement, a spokesperson for the protesters, Abu Omar, also said that “the occupation will not enjoy calm unless the siege on our beloved land is lifted.”
The Israeli blockade on Gaza has over the years caused extreme hardships for the approximately 2 million Palestinians. Israel maintains stringent control over the movement of Palestinians and the transport and supply of goods, allowing only a limited supply of minimal humanitarian aid.
During the 14-years-long siege, Israel also waged military invasions into Gaza three times — in 2008-09, 2012, and 2014. Israel also violently suppressed the 2018-19 Great March of Return protests. This is besides the countless airstrikes and military operations, injuring and killing thousands of Palestinians and causing extensive damage to civilian infrastructure.
In May this year, Israel carried out an 11-day attack against Gaza following protests against the Israeli violations at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem. The attacks killed close to 260 Palestinians, including 67 children.