Israel Strikes Hamas Target in Gaza After Explosive-laden Balloons Launch, Army Says

Earlier, three small fires were sparked in southern Israel by the explosive balloons flown from the coastal enclave

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The Israel-Gaza border, February, 2020.
The Israel-Gaza border, February, 2020. Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

The Israel Air Force struck a Hamas underground infrastructure in the Gaza Strip in response to explosive-laden balloons launched from the enclave earlier on Thursday, the Israeli army said in a statement.

A spokesperson for the Fire and Rescue Service said Thursday that three fires were sparked by the explosive balloons flown from Gaza into Israel. The fires broke out in the Eshkol regional council and Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. The spokesperson added that the fires were small and didn't pose real danger.

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Earlier, police said that they had received a report about a balloon located in an industrial area in the southern city of Arad, with a "suspicious object attached to it." A police supper who inspected the object said it was an explosive device with a suspension mechanism.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz wrote on Twitter that "The State of Israel won't accept any violation of its sovereignty nor will it permit harming its citizens," Gantz said, adding that Gaza rulers must understand that there is no other solution but to release the bodies of IDF soldiers and Israeli citizens held captive in Gaza.

"Only bringing back home the boys and maintaining the calm will lead to an economic growth in the Strip. The terror organizations must understand, if they haven't already, that those who put Israel to the test, will be severely harmed," Gantz tweeted.   

On Sunday, the army said it struck targets belonging to Hamas in retaliation for a rocket that was fired from Gaza earlier that day. The rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.   

The airstrike targeted a cement production facility and underground infrastructure, according to a statement released by the IDF Spokesperson's Unit.

In July, three rockets were fired from Gaza at Israel, two of which fell in open areas within Israeli territory and one intercepted. In response, Israeli fighter jets struck Hamas targets in the Strip. An IDF statement said that among the targets hit were “a workshop to produce rockets as well as infrastructure used to manufacture weapons for Hamas." No casualties were reported on either side. 

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