Israeli fire kills four Palestinians as troops shot at on Gaza border

An army statement said shots were fired at troops during renewed protests along the Gaza-Israel frontier and "in response, (Israeli) aircraft and tanks targeted military targets throughout the Gaza Strip".

In an opinion piece published by The Washington Post on Friday, the two US officials in charge of Washington's Middle East policy - Jared Kushner, who is US President's Donald Trump son-in-law, and Jason Greenblatt - along with David Freedman, the ambassador to Israel, blamed Hamas for the poverty and unemployment in Gaza over the past 70 years, attributing it to "corrupt and hateful leadership".

The militant Islamic Hamas that rules Gaza said three of the Palestinians killed were members of the group.

But after weeks of unrelenting fires, and growing political pressure from Israelis living near the border, the government has now declared the balloons to be an unbearable provocation that must be met firmly.

The same day, around 200 rockets and mortars were fired at Israel from Gaza and four Israelis were wounded when a rocket hit a house in the nearby Israeli city of Sderot.

As a result of the continuous airstrikes and heavy use of live ammunition by the Israeli forces, it has been estimated that about 120 Palestinians have been injured in various areas of the Gaza Strip.

Sources added that protesters set auto tires on fire, in attempt to blur the vision of Israeli snipers with smoke and flames, while they proceed with the march.

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Fires caused by kites and helium-filled balloons have ravaged farmland in Israel in recent months.

Hamas on Friday vowed it will continue weekly protests and the launching of incendiary devices at Israel.

Israel says Hamas has been orchestrating the demonstrations to provide cover for militants' cross-border attacks.

Israeli Defense Forces unleashed an air-barrage against targets in the Gaza Strip Friday evening; destroying multiple installations following a "serious shooting incident" against Israeli soldiers operating in the region.

"Hamas chose to escalate the security situation and will bear the consequences for its actions".

A former senior American official, however, said he does not see a solution on the horizon given the wide gulf between the positions of Hamas and Israel.

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