Explosive balloons, violent clashes, as gas flows into Gaza

Over 11 rockets and mortars have been fired into Israel in the past week and a half and dozens of explosive balloons have been launched into Israel from Gaza and the West Bank.

Palestinians protest against Deal of the Century Middle East peace plan in Gaza, Jan. 31, 2020 (photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS)
Palestinians protest against Deal of the Century Middle East peace plan in Gaza, Jan. 31, 2020
(photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS)
Explosive balloons were found in southern Israel and in a town near Hebron on Sunday, as nine trucks carrying about 150 tons of Israeli-supplied cooking gas entered the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom border crossing. 27 additional trucks with Egyptian-supplied gas are expected to enter the Strip today as well.
Palestinian demonstrators and security forces clashed in the West Bank on Sunday, according to Palestinian media. Dozens of injuries were reported due to tear gas and rubber bullets, including a Palestinian journalist. An additional journalist was arrested by Israeli security forces. Ten Palestinians were arrested on Saturday night and Sunday morning, including a guard at the Al-Aqsa mosque and two minors in Hebron.
The Palestinian National and Islamic Forces called for a day of escalation with Israeli forces on this coming Friday, according to the Palestinian Quds news.
Two explosive balloons were found in a town in the Shaar Ha'Negev Regional Council and in a field in Netiv Ha'Asara in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council in southern Israel. The security coordinator for the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council, Ziv Welch, used a drone to capture video of the charge on the balloon found in Netiv Ha'Asarah exploding, according to a statement by the regional council.

"The way of capturing video of the explosion of the balloons allows [us] to imagine what would happen if the balloons had landed in a kindergarten, G-d forbid," said Itamar Revivo, head of the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. "Every day we deal with the continuation of rocket fire [and] launches of explosive balloon meant to lure children. It is time to take immediate and decisive action to create quiet in communities bordering the Gaza Strip!"

A third balloon was found in a town in the Har Hebron Regional Council. All three cases were handed by Israel Police sappers without injuries.
There is a deficit of cooking gas in Gaza. Cooking gas became more expensive on Sunday as prices rose in the West Bank.
The IDF and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) announced a ban on the import of cement into Gaza on Saturday, after cement had been allowed into the Strip for the first time since 2007 on Thursday.
The IDF is also cutting 500 entry permits into Israel for Gaza merchants effective Sunday morning, until further notice.
The Israeli Air Force attacked targets belonging to Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday night in retaliation for rockets and balloons launched from Gaza in the past few days. One of the targets was a building used as a military situation room for Hamas.
"The attack on these targets damages the Hamas terrorist organization's ability to build up," said the IDF in a statement. "The IDF sees with great severity all terrorist activity against Israeli territory and is in high readiness for a range of situations."
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced on Saturday that he has decided to sever all relations with Israel and the US in protest against President Donald Trump’s recently unveiled plan for Mideast peace. 
“Therefore, we notified them that there will be no relations with Israel and the US. That includes security relations, in light of their disregard of the signed agreements and international legitimacy," said Abbas.
Over 11 rockets and mortars have been fired into Israel in the past week and a half and dozens of explosive balloons have been launched into Israel from Gaza and the West Bank.
Idan Zonshine and Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.