Israel Strikes Hamas in Gaza in Response to Incendiary Balloon Blaze

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Smoke and flames are seen after an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza Strip, earlier this month.
Smoke and flames are seen after an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza Strip, earlier this month.Credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS

Israel struck a Hamas post in Gaza on Saturday night, the Israeli military said, after incendiary balloons sent into Israel from the Strip earlier that day started a brush fire in southern Israel.

The Israeli military said its jets struck a weapon production facility and a rocket launch site; Palestinian reports had said that Israeli planes struck a Hamas training compound south of Gaza City. 

"The strikes were carried out in response to the repeated launches of explosive-laden balloons into Israeli territory," the military said. 

On Saturday evening, Israel's firefighting and rescue service said that they managed to extinguish a blaze in the Eshkol Regional Council, which was caused by incendiary balloons flown across the border from Gaza.  

Early Friday morning, Israel struck a Hamas weapon manufacturing site in Gaza in response to the launch of explosive-laden balloons from the enclave into Israeli territory. 

Four fires broke out on Thursday across the Eshkol Regional Council near the Gaza border due to incendiary balloons from Gaza, according to the Israel Fire and Rescue Commission.

Two weeks ago, about 20 fires broke out in Israeli territory near the Gaza Strip from incendiary balloons launched from the enclave. In response, Israeli fighter jets attacked Hamas military compounds in Gaza.

Delegations from Israel and Hamas are currently in Cairo for indirect talks under Egyptian mediation on the return of two Israeli civilians and the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed in 2014.

Sources from Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, confirmed to Haaretz that the Islamist organization sent a delegation to Cairo at the invitation of the Egyptian intelligence services. The sources said that no progress or breakthrough have been achieved so far.

Hamas, which is holding Israeli civilians Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed and the bodies of soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, is apparently interested in separating the negotiations for the return of the four from the humanitarian issues involving the reconstruction of Gaza.

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