Israel launches a new aerial bombardment against the Gaza Strip

Civilians seek to protect themselves from the bombardments in the destroyed area. Photo EFE

The Israeli air force carried out new shelling in the Gaza Strip between Thursday night and early Friday morning after Palestinian militants launched incendiary balloons into southern Israel, the army and AFP journalists said.

The incendiary balloons and airstrikes are the latest acts of violence piling up pressure on a fragile truce between Israel and the Islamist movement Hamas, which took effect on May 21 to end 11 days of intense fighting.

This is the second series of Israeli bombings this week in the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian enclave of two million people, after they launched a first air wave on Wednesday in retaliation for the incendiary balloons.

The Israeli army affirmed that the attacked points are located in the city of Gaza and in Jan Yunes, in the south of the enclave, subjected to an Israeli blockade for almost 15 years.

AFP journalists in Gaza indicated that explosions from the Israeli attacks could be heard.

Shortly after the airstrikes, Hamas militants opened machine gun fire on Israeli territory.

The truce was broken after the carrying out of the March of the Flags, an act of provocation about which they had warned that it would be an affront to the Palestinian people and that it would give way to a resurgence of the conflict.

The Israeli extreme right celebrates with the March of the Flags the day of the arrival of the Hebrew people to the lands that were taken from the Palestinian people.

Israel prepares for a new coup

This week's attacks in Gaza are the first under the new Israeli government, led by Naftali Bennett, whose ideologically unequal coalition replaced former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday.

The army chief, General Aviv Kohavi, asked his General Staff to "increase the army's preparation" for a "series of scenarios", including "the resumption of hostilities" after the last war, which cost 260 lives. Palestinians - including women, children and adolescents - and 13 people in Israel, including a soldier.

Egypt, meanwhile, is trying to consolidate the fragile ceasefire that allowed the blitzkrieg of May to end.

Cairo and the UN hope to support the reconstruction of Gaza after the conflict that left housing towers and infrastructure completely destroyed.

The densely populated enclave has been under an Israeli blockade since 2007.

Israeli military chief Kohavi is scheduled to travel to the United States on Saturday for a series of meetings over six days.

It will be the first senior Israeli military official to visit the United States since Bennett took office on Sunday.

Kohavi will visit the Central Command (Centcom) of the US armed forces, in Florida, where he will discuss Hamas and Iran, Israel's arch enemy, as well as the Shiite Hezbollah movement, backed by Tehran.

The Israeli military chief will discuss "common security challenges," according to an army statement, including issues "related to the Iranian nuclear threat, the entrenchment of Iran in the Middle East and efforts to strengthen Hezbollah."



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