WORLD Israeli PM says Hamas sustains "significant" blow

WORLD

Israeli PM says Hamas sustains "significant" blow

Xinhua

03:50, July 16, 2018

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Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli troops on the Gaza-Israel border, east of Gaza City, on July 13, 2018. (Photo:Xinhua)

 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Hamas sustained a "significant" blow over the weekend, amidst a deadly escalation in the Gaza Strip.

"Over the weekend we hit Hamas in a significant way," Netanyahu told his weekly cabinet meeting, referring to dozens of airstrikes that Israel carried out on Friday and Saturday.

At least two Palestinian teenagers were killed in the strikes, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. On Sunday, two more people died in Gaza during an attempt to detonate an Israeli bomb dropped during the weekend.

"The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) dealt Hamas the harshest blow since Operation Protective Edge," Netanyahu said, referring to Israel's 2014 military campaign in Gaza.

"I hope that they got the message. If not, they will get it later," he added.

Netanyahu warned that Israel will not allow any hostility from the besieged Palestinian enclave. "Our policy is clear: whoever hurts us, we will hit them with great strength," he said.

He also denied reports according to which Israel agreed that Hamas will gradually cease the launchings of burning kites and helium-filled balloons.

"I heard it is being said that Israel has agreed to a ceasefire that would allow the continuation of incendiary kites and balloons; this is incorrect. We are not prepared to accept any attacks against us and we will respond appropriately," Netanyahu said.

Over the weekend, Israel carried out dozens of air strikes, while Gaza militants launched at least 100 mortar bombs at southern Israel, wounding three people.

The escalation came amidst weekly rallies near the fence separating between Israel and the Palestinian enclave. Israel has killed at least 133 Palestinians since the "Great March of Return" protests began on March 30, according to Gaza Health Ministry.

Gaza militants have sent burning kites and helium balloons, which set fires in southern Israel's arid farmlands. At least 32,000 dunams (32 square kilometers) of farmland and forest have been consumed by the kites.

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