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.
The weekly protests led by Hamas against Israel are meant in part to draw attention to the Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed after the militant group assumed control of Gaza in 2007.
Hamas, the enclave's Islamist rulers, has reported three members of its military wing killed; Shaban abu Khatar, Mohammed abu Farhana and Mahmoud Qushta, saying they were fighters.
Stressing that the army is on high alert, the statement said: "Hamas chooses to escalate tension and will bear the consequences of these actions".
Palestinian residents said the area was calm after midnight, and an Israeli Army spokeswoman confirmed there was no known military activity in the Gaza Strip.
He was the first Israeli military fatality in months of violence along the Gaza border. Four Hamas terrorists have been killed in the strikes and 15 Hamas targets were hit.
"Everyone in Gaza needs to step back from the brink", tweeted U.N. Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov, who is among those attempting to broker a cease-fire.
Israel has said it is defending its sovereign border.
Human rights groups have accused Israeli troops of using excessive force.
Lieberman has raised the threat of a large-scale operation in the Gaza Strip if Hamas does not stop the kites and balloons being launched.
"Earlier today, IDF aircraft and tanks targeted military targets belonging to the Hamas terror organisation".
Pinpointing the primary cause of Gaza's ills as Hamas' diversion of aid money from badly needed infrastructure projects to nefarious ends, such as the purchase of weapons and other terror-based enterprises, "fighting a morally bankrupt, decades-old war that has always been lost", Kushner, Greenblatt, and Friedman observe, "Life could significantly improve in short order for the Palestinian people if Hamas allowed it".
Khalil al-Hayya, a top Hamas leader, said "the protests will remain, flaming and existing, and its tools will multiply and diversify, including kites, until our goals are achieved".
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