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Israeli aircraft carry out airstrikes at militant sites in Gaza, first since last month's cease-fire

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JERUSALEM — Israeli aircraft on Wednesday carried out a series of airstrikes at militant sites in Gaza, the first such raids since a shaky cease-fire ended the war last month. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The airstrikes came amid escalating tensions, after hundreds of Israeli ultranationalists, some chanting “Death to Arabs,” paraded Tuesday in east Jerusalem in a show of force. Palestinians in Gaza responded by launching incendiary balloons that caused at least 10 fires in southern Israel, according to the national fire department.

The airstrikes, incendiary balloons and march underscored the fragility of the tenuous truce that ended last month’s 11-day war between Israel and Hamas, as well as the challenges facing Israel's new government.

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At least 230 Palestinians, including 65 children were killed, and 12 Israelis, including two children, were killed in the war in May.

Palestinians consider the march, meant to celebrate Israel’s capture of east Jerusalem in 1967, to be a provocation. Hamas called on Palestinians to “resist” the parade, a version of which helped ignite last month’s 11-day Gaza war.

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - JUNE 15: Police officers clash with Palestinian as they force Palestinians out of Damascus Gate area before the far right flag march on June 15, 2021 in Jerusalem, Israel. Authorities had denied permission for the march several times, worried that its route through the Old City would stoke tensions that have been high since, and preceding, the 11 days of fighting between Israel and Hamas last month.  (Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775666357 ORIG FILE ID: 1233472073
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - JUNE 15: Police officers clash with Palestinian as they force Palestinians out of Damascus Gate area before the far right flag march on June 15, 2021 in Jerusalem, Israel. Authorities had denied permission for the march several times, worried that its route through the Old City would stoke tensions that have been high since, and preceding, the 11 days of fighting between Israel and Hamas last month. (Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775666357 ORIG FILE ID: 1233472073

With music blaring, hundreds of Jewish nationalists gathered and moved in front of Damascus Gate. Most appeared to be young men, and many held blue-and-white Israeli flags as they danced and sang religious songs.

At one point, several dozen youths, jumping and waving their hands in their air, chanted: “Death to Arabs!” In another anti-Arab chant, they yelled: “May your village burn.”

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After capturing east Jerusalem in 1967, Israel annexed the city in a move not recognized by most of the international community. It considers the entire city its capital, while the Palestinians want east Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state. The competing claims over east Jerusalem, home to Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy sites, lie at the heart of the conflict and have sparked many rounds of violence.

Hamas had called on Palestinians to show “valiant resistance” to the march. It urged people to gather in the Old City and at the Al-Aqsa Mosque to “rise up in the face of the occupier and resist it by all means to stop its crimes and arrogance.”

The Israeli airstrikes targeted facilities used by Hamas for meetings to plan attacks, the military said, blaming the militant group for any act of violence emanating from Gaza.___

Contributing: Joseph Krauss, Associated Press.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Israeli aircraft carry out airstrikes at militant sites in Gaza

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