Second Night of Rioting on Gaza Border

YERUSHALAYIM (AP) -
Protesters take cover next to tires on fire near the fence of Gaza Strip border with Israel during a protest east of Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

Dozens of Palestinians gathered Sunday night along the separation fence with Israel, pressing ahead with a series of protests staged by the territory’s Hamas rulers aimed at pressuring Israel to ease the blockade of the territory.

It was the second consecutive nighttime border protest and took place hours after Israeli warplanes carried out a series of airstrikes on Hamas targets in response to the unrest. Hamas officials have said they will hold nightly protests all week.

Israel defends the closure, which tightly restricts the movement of goods and people in and out of Gaza, as needed to prevent Hamas from building up its military capabilities, which would then be turned against Israel.

Israel has tightened the blockade since an 11-day war with Hamas in May while Egypt tries to broker a long-term cease-fire. Israel has demanded that Hamas return the remains of two dead soldiers and release two captive Israeli civilians in exchange for easing the blockade.

As talks have dragged on without a breakthrough, Hamas operatives have launched a series of incendiary balloons across the border, sparking a series of wildfires in southern Israel.

Hamas also has allowed a number of violent demonstrations along the border.

Two Palestinians, including a 12-year-old boy and a Hamas terrorist, have been killed from Israeli gunfire, while an Israeli soldier was critically wounded when a terrotist shot him in the head at point-blank range during one of the protests.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, speaking before returning to Israel from Washington, said the pressure on Hamas would continue.

“We will operate in Gaza according to our interests,” he said in Hebrew on the tarmac.