Army Strikes Hamas Targets After Gaza Balloon Bombs Ignite Dozens of Fires in Southern Israel

Jack Khoury
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Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza August 18, 2020.
Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza August 18, 2020. Credit: MOHAMMED SALEM / REUTERS
Jack Khoury

The Israeli army struck Hamas targets in the early hours of Tuesday in response to the dozens of fires sparked by explosive-laden balloons sent from the Gaza Strip into the country's south, the military said in a statement.

According to the IDF's Spokesperson Unit, Israeli fighter jets and tanks hit Hamas military positions, as well as underground infrastructure in the southern enclave.

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The army added that it is holding an ongoing situation assessment and is acting with determination and tenacity against every terrorist activity against Israel's citizens and the violation of its sovereignty.

According to earlier reports from Gaza, Qatari envoy Mohammed al-Emadi is due to arrive in the Strip on Tuesday.

It was not clear whether, as in the past, he would be coming with suitcases full of cash, or if the Qatari funds would be distributed to Gazans by bank transfer or via post office branches.

A Hamas source told Haaretz it also wasn’t certain how much money he would be coming with and whether the funds would be directed solely to needy families – at $100 each to between 100,000 and 120,000 families – or if it would also go to support other humanitarian projects.

Sources in Gaza have stressed over the past several days that the situation has deteriorated due to electricity shortages, with households receiving only four hours of power a day. Pictures have circulated on social media of children sleeping on the floor due to the hot weather and the lack of air conditioning.

In recent weeks, incendiary and explosive devices, as well as rocket fire, have been directed into Israel from Gaza, prompting Israeli aerial bombardments in retaliation. On Monday alone, incendiary balloons from Gaza caused 36 fires across the border in Israel. Firefighters said most of the fires small and in brushland and did not pose a danger.

On the night between Sunday and Monday, the military also struck underground facilities and military posts belonging to Hamas, responding to the continued launching of the incendiary balloons from the enclave.

On Saturday, Israeli tanks hit Hamas positions after a rocket was launched earlier from the enclave.

In the early hours of Friday, the army launched another attack on Hamas sites after multiple rockets were launched toward Israel. In addition, a house in the southern town of Sderot was damaged by what appeared to be a fragment from a rocket interception on the night between Thursday and Friday. Overall, there were three airstrikes throughout the night and 12 rockets were fired from the Strip.

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