By Abdel Rauf Arnaut
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said that any cease-fire deal with Hamas would not apply to the use of incendiary kites and balloons used by Palestinian activists to attack Israeli territory.
On Saturday, Israel and Hamas -- the latter of which has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007 -- reportedly agreed to the terms of an Egyptian cease-fire proposal.
While visiting the city of Sderot on Monday, however, Netanyahu said that the deal would not apply to the use of incendiary kites and balloons by Palestinian activists in the blockaded Gaza Strip.
“If this cannot be understood with words, it will be made clear by the Israeli army,” Israeli radio quoted Netanyahu as saying.
The prime minister reportedly made the remarks following a dispute between Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Army Chief-of-Staff Gadi Eizenkot over how the military should respond to the improvised flying weapons.
On Sunday, Israeli radio reported that Bennett, along with Interior Security Minister Gelad Ardan, had defended the right of Israeli troops to fire on kite-launchers, while Eizenkot had expressed opposition to the practice.
Earlier Sunday, an Israeli warplane fired on a group of Palestinian activists launching incendiary kites and balloons near the Gaza-Israel border fence.
According to an Anadolu Agency correspondent based in the area, the attack -- which apparently failed to cause any casualties -- occurred east of Gaza’s city of Deir al-Balah.
In a statement, an Israeli army spokesman said that the strike had targeted a team of Hamas fighters launching “arson balloons” into Israeli territory.
In recent weeks, Palestinian activists in Gaza have been flying incendiary kites and balloons into Israeli territory as part of ongoing rallies along the Gaza-Israel security fence that began on Mar. 30.
Since the rallies began, more than 130 Palestinians have been martyred -- and thousands more injured -- by Israeli army gunfire.
Protesters demand the “right of return” to their homes and villages in historical Palestine from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.
They also demand an end to Israel’s 11-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has gutted the coastal territory’s economy and deprived its roughly two million inhabitants of basic commodities.
On Saturday, two Palestinians were martyred when Israeli warplanes struck targets in Gaza in ostensible retaliation for rockets allegedly fired from Gaza into southern Israel.