An Israeli Apache helicopter fires a missile towards the northern Gaza Strip.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
An IDF combat helicopter struck a Hamas position in the southern Gaza Strip after a mortar was launched from the coastal enclave toward the South late Friday night, the military said.
The Red Alert incoming rocket system was not activated as the projectile landed in an open area, causing no damage or injuries.
The mortar round was the first since the first to be launched from the Strip since intense fighting in November which saw hundreds of rockets fired toward southern Israel, killing one man and causing damage to property in several communities.
The launch came several hours after Karam Fayyad, 26, from Khan Younis was killed by IDF fire during the 40th week of border protests.
Another six people, including a journalist, a paramedic and a minor were wounded during the protests which saw some 4,000 Palestinians take part despite the stormy weather. Protesters threw rocks and explosive devices at troops, who responded with riot dispersal means, including live fire.
Earlier on Friday, several balloons attached to an explosive device were found in the yard of a kindergarten in the Sdot Negev Regional Council community of Kfar Maimon. Another balloon with an explosive device was found in the community of Moshav Zru’a later on Friday.
The balloons were the first after a lull of several weeks.
On Thursday, the Head of Coordination and Liaison Administration in Gaza, Col. Iyad Sarhan, urged Gazans to stay away from protests and posted on Facebook that the IDF will not tolerate any violation of Israel’s sovereignty.
“How do you want to spend your Friday? With members of your family, or at the violence on the fence?” Sarhan wrote.
“The IDF will not tolerate attempts to sabotage the fence or violations of Israel’s sovereignty! We too want a Friday without casualties among you, but this depends on you and you alone. Keep your distance from the fence area, in so doing you will keep yourselves safe.”
Palestinians have been protesting along the Gaza border fence for the past nine months, calling for an end of the 12-year-long Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, 255 Palestinians have died in clashes with IDF troops during the protests along the border fence, including 35 minors, one woman, two journalists and three paramedics. Another 25,000 have been wounded.
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