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Resources updated Monday, February 03, 2020

February 3, 2020

Incendiary balloons launched from Gaza into Israel (File photo courtesy of Israel Police spokesperson unit)

At least nine balloons suspected of carrying explosives and incendiary devices from the Gaza Strip were found Monday in Israeli communities near the restive frontier.

The area has seen a marked increase in violence over the last several days, with near daily rocket fire and launches of suspected balloon borne bombs, drawing retaliatory airstrikes and puntive measures.

Local officials said three balloons were found in the Eshkol Regional Council, one of which apparently exploded without causing injuries or damage. The other two were removed by security forces.

Trains in the area of Netivot were briefly interrupted due to concerns about more explosives attached to balloons, the Ynet website reported.

Another balloon with a suspicious package attached was found in the Merhavim Regional Council. Police sappers were called to deal with the device.

More balloons were found around the town of Sderot and some were reportedly spotted as far from the border as Kiryat Gat, some 10 kilometers from Gaza.

Route 6, a major north-south toll highway was briefly closed where it passes by Kiryat Gat as security forces dealt with the incidents, Hebrew media reported.

One balloon-borne explosive exploded near a house in Kfar Aza without causing injuries. Another balloon turned up in Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council

Explosive devices and incendiary devices tied to balloons have increasingly been floating over the border from Gaza in recent weeks.

Tensions between Israel and Gaza have been steadily rising over the past two weeks, after several months of relative calm. Fears have mounted in recent days of an escalation of violence in Gaza and the West Bank following the release of the US peace plan that is seen as heavily favoring Israel.

On Sunday, the Defense Ministry announced it was freezing cement imports and cutting commercial entry permits from Gaza in response to the recent near daily attacks from the Strip.

Hamas said Israel's "aggression" would not deter the terror organization from carrying out further attacks.

Late last month a senior Hamas official said the recent string of balloons was a signal to Israel to accelerate unofficial "understandings" meant to ease the blockade on the territory ruled by the terror group.

Hamas is a terror group committed to Israel's destruction, and it has ruled Gaza since taking over the territory from the Palestinian Authority in a bloody coup in 2007. It has since fired tens of thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians and fought three wars with Israel.

Gazan balloons bearing bombs barrage Israel border area Document

Plain clothes police at the scene of the attack

Two people have been stabbed and a terrorist has been shot dead following an "Islamist-inspired" terror attack in south London.

Here's what we know so far.

The attacker

The terrorist was a 20-year-old man from Harrow, north London, named Sudesh Amman.

He was released from prison just days ago after serving half of a three-year sentence for spreading extremist material.

He wore a fake bomb vest as he stabbed two people in Streatham today, before being chased and shot dead by armed police.

The terrorist was under active police surveillance at the time of the attack, Sky News security correspondent Alistair Bunkall said.

The stabbings are believed to have been Islamist-related, said Met Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Lucy D'Orsi.

The victims

Two people were stabbed - a man in his 40s and a woman in her 50s.

The man was taken to hospital in a life-threatening state, but his condition has since improved.

The woman has now been discharged from hospital. A woman in her 20s was also for minor injuries believed to have been caused by glass following police gunshots.

Where and when did the attack unfold?

The attack took place on Streatham's busy High Road - around seven miles from central London - at about 2pm.

Video shows two officers with guns drawn approaching the body outside Boots, before another plain-clothes officer on a high-powered motorbike pulls up.

They back off as the man on the ground lifts his head slightly and more armed officers arrive.

A witness described seeing a man with a machete and silver canisters being chased by armed police.

The 19-year-old student - who wanted to remain anonymous - said: "I was crossing the road when I saw a man with a machete and silver canisters on his chest being chased by what I assume was an undercover police officer - as they were in civilian clothing.

"The man was then shot. I think I heard three gun shots but I can't quite remember."

Another witness, Karker Tahir, told Sky News: "I saw this guy literally running on the pavement and behind him there were two or three police officers undercover with a gun.

"They kept telling him 'stop, stop'. But he didn't stop and then I saw that they shot him three times.

"It was horrible seeing it. The man was on the floor and it looked like he had something which police said may be a device.

"Police came to us and said 'you have to leave the shop because he has a bomb in his bag'.

"After shooting him they went to check on him while he was alive and then they found something - I believe there was a bomb or something - and they stepped back and told everybody to step back."

A shop owner, who also wanted to stay anonymous, said the man had taken a knife from a shop before stabbing a man and a woman.

On social media, Dave Chawner said he had helped one of the victims.

He tweeted: "I had to stay with someone who'd just been #stabbed in #Streatham for 30 minutes before a single ambulance arrived.

"I'm just over 1 mile from a hospital - I'm not having a go at anyone, but that's not right, I just hope he made it."

Mr Chawner told Sky News he first thought a shoplifting was taking place with a man running down the street.

He said he then saw a victim on the ground on the other side of the street who was "not lucid" and Mr Chawner had a blanket with him which was placed over the wound to compress it.

London Ambulance Service later said the first of their medics had arrived on the scene in four minutes.

It said it sent out five ambulance crews, an advanced paramedic practitioner, an incident response officer and a motorcycle responder, as well as London's Air Ambulance.

How quickly did the ambulance respond?

Graham Norton, strategic commander at London Ambulance Service, said:

"We were called at 1.58pm today (2 February) to reports of an incident in Streatham High Road.

"We worked closely with the other emergency services and sent a number of resources including five ambulance crews, an advanced paramedic practitioner, an incident response officer and a motorcycle responder, and we also dispatched London's Air Ambulance.

"The first of our medics arrived in four minutes, and were initially directed to a rendezvous point until the Metropolitan Police confirmed it was safe for them to approach and treat patients.

"We treated three patients for injuries, and took all three people to hospital."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's response

"My thoughts are with the injured victims and their loved ones following today's horrific attack in Streatham.

"I want to pay tribute to the speed and bravery of the police who responded and confronted the attacker - preventing further injuries and violence - and all of the emergency services who came to the aid of others.

"An investigation is taking place at pace to establish the full facts of what happened, and the Government will provide all necessary support to the police and security services as this work goes on.

"Following the awful events at Fishmonger's Hall in December, we have moved quickly to introduce a package of measures to strengthen every element of our response to terrorism - including longer prison sentences and more money for the police.

"Tomorrow, we will announce further plans for fundamental changes to the system for dealing with those convicted of terrorism offences."

Streatham terror attack: Terrorist shot dead by police after stabbing two people Document