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Israeli airstrike kills Hamas member in Gaza

An Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip killed a member of the Islamist militant Hamas group on Thursday and wounded three others.

3 others injured in attack on militants

An Israeli soldier extinguishes a fire started by a kite with attached burning cloth launched by Palestinians from Gaza, near the border with Israel-Gaza in June. The Israeli military confirmed Thursday it had carried out an airstrike targeting Hamas militants who were about to launch balloons rigged with flammable material over the border into Israel. (Tsafrir Abayov/Associated Press)

An Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip killed a member of the Islamist militant Hamas group on Thursday and wounded three others, Hamas sources and medical officials said.

The Israeli military confirmed in a statement that it had carried out an airstrike. It said it targeted Hamas militants who were about to launch balloons rigged with flammable material over the border into Israel.

After the airstrike, the Israeli military said Palestinian militants had fired mortar bombs at Israeli soldiers across the border, but no casualties had been reported.

Fires caused by incendiary helium balloons and kites launched by Palestinians in Gaza over the border into Israel have ravaged tracts of farmland there in recent months. Israel has vowed to stop the attacks, even at the risk of wider conflict.

Weekly clashes at the Israel-Gaza border have kept tensions at a high for months. More than 130 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces during protests at the frontier held every week since March.

Israel says Hamas has been orchestrating the demonstrations, dubbed the Great March of Return, to provide cover for militants' cross-border attacks. Hamas denies this.

Cross-border violence surged on Saturday when Palestinian militants fired more than 100 rockets into Israel and the Israeli military carried out dozens of airstrikes in the Hamas-ruled enclave. 

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