The Israeli Air Force recently launched a wide-scale attack against Hamas military targets in Gaza on Friday, July 20th. This information comes from a statement issued by the Israeli military. The Israeli Defense Forces stated that the attack was in response to a shooting carried out against its soldiers earlier in the day. Palestinian protesters had gathered along the fence that separates Israel and Gaza, resulting in the death of four protestors by Israeli forces.

The fence between Israel and Gaza has seen rising tensions in recent months, frequently erupting into violence. Similarly, Israel has seen a dramatic increase in arson attacks from balloons and kites launched from Gaza. Israel has claimed that Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, is orchestrating the protests and violence. As a result, Israel has significantly tightened restrictions on the flow of goods to this part of the country.

Israeli army snipers and other troops have killed around 140 Palestinians since the wall protests began in March of 2018. Thousands of others have been injured. The protestors have stated their intent to continue until Israel halts its twelve-year siege of Gaza. Israel says that fires started by the protestors have destroyed large areas of farmland and crops.

Gaza has suffered greatly in recent years. Electricity is sparse, and access to water, medicine, and jobs continues to dwindle dangerously. Some experts believe that Israel’s decision to end their occupation of Gaza has a lot to do with ending rivalries between Palestinians political factions—specifically Haas and Fatah. Israel began its air, land, and sea blockade on Gaza in 2007 when Hamas took control of the territory.

This recent attack by Israeli forces comes in direct response to the killing of an Israeli guard by Palestinian sniper. The military said a “terrorist squad” fired at troops and that one soldier was severely injured and later died of his wounds. After this initial fire, Israel’s military said it struck 15 Hamas positions, including weapons warehouses, command and control centers, and training facilities.

Sources: Al Jazeera; CNN