Thursday 21 June 2018

Israel to deduct from Palestinian funds for arson damage from Gaza kite attacks

Gazans have staged weekly protests since late March, during which more than 115 Palestinians have been killed.

Teargas canisters fired by Israeli troops fall over Palestinian protesters during a protest at the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel (Khalil Hamra/AP)
Teargas canisters fired by Israeli troops fall over Palestinian protesters during a protest at the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel (Khalil Hamra/AP)

By Tia Goldenberg, Associated Press

Israel has announced plans to deduct from tax funds it collects for the Palestinians to compensate Israelis living near the Gaza Strip who have fallen victim to a wave of arson attacks.

The country has been battling fires caused by kites rigged with incendiary devices or attached to burning rags launched by Palestinians in Gaza that have damaged forests and torched agricultural fields.

The fires have disrupted daily life in communities near the Gaza Strip.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted on Sunday that he had asked for the deduction.

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Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem (Sebastian Scheiner/AP/Pool)

The kites have been flown by Gazans who have staged weekly protests since late March, during which more than 115 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli army fire.

On Monday, the Israeli military said it fired at two Palestinians who were attempting to breach the border fence, killing one of them.

The military said they had damaged the fence and were carrying an axe.

The protests, led by the Islamic militant group Hamas that rules Gaza, are meant to oppose an 11-year-old Israeli-Egyptian blockade on the tiny coastal strip which was imposed when Hamas seized Gaza from the Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Palestinian Authority condemned the move, saying it would violate past agreements signed with Israel and called it “robbery and cowardly aggression” against the Palestinians.

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Palestinian protesters take cover from teargas fired by Israeli troops (Adel Hana/AP)

Israel collects some taxes and customs on behalf of the Palestinians, which it transfers monthly.

It has previously threatened to withhold the tax money over Palestinian actions it opposes.

The statement from Mr Netanyahu’s office on Sunday did not disclose how much would be deducted.

Amir Dan, an official from Israel’s tax authority, told Israeli Army Radio that agricultural damage alone stood at five million shekels (£1 million) and that damage caused to nature reserves and other land could drive up the figure.

Press Association

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