Israel Strikes Gaza Three Times as 12 Rockets Fired, House Damaged

House in Sderot damaged by unexploded rocket ■ Israeli tanks earlier attacked Hamas military positions in retaliation for explosive-laden balloons launched from the enclave

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Smoke and flame are seen following an Israeli air strike in the southern Gaza Strip, August 20, 2020.
Smoke and flame are seen following an Israeli air strike in the southern Gaza Strip, August 20, 2020. Credit: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

The Israeli military struck Hamas targets in the southern Gaza Strip multiple times amid rocket fire from the enclave, while a house in 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. 

In light of tensions, Israel ordered to suspend all agricultural work in fields bordering Gaza on Friday. 

The damaged house in Sderot, August 20, 2020.
The damaged house in Sderot, August 20, 2020.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Friday that "Hamas will suffer a very severe blow," at a situation assessment meeting with army Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi. "The IDF is prepared, defending and will continue to protect the residents of the south, attack those attacking us, and inflict very severe damage on them. The residents of Gaza are suffering from Hamas, we will continue to protect the residents of the south and the citizens of Israel," said Gantz. 

Meanwhile, Palestinian factions in Gaza said on Friday that they will not allow Israel to use the launching of explosive-laden balloons as an excuse to attack the Gaza Strip. A statement from the factions' joint operations room said the balloons were "non-violent popular means."

The joint statement also added that "resistance forces have responded and will respond to any attack against the Palestinian people." According to the factions, they "will not allow the enemy to continue the siege, and it is the right of the Palestinian people to respond by all means at its disposal to lift the siege."

The Iron Dome anti-missile system fires interception missiles as rockets are launched from Gaza towards Israel, as seen from the city of Ashkelon, August 21, 2020.
The Iron Dome anti-missile system fires interception missiles as rockets are launched from Gaza towards Israel, as seen from the city of Ashkelon, August 21, 2020. Credit: REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Hamas Spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum commented that the launched rockets prove that the organization is defending the Palestinian people and "will not hesitate to enter battle if Israel's attacks and siege continue." He said Hamas retaliated "responsibly and proportionally" in order to safeguard Palestinian interests, adding that Israel's aggressions and tightening of the blockade is harming the civilian population.

Emergency services said three Israelis were suffering from shock after an unexploded rocket fell on a house in Sderot, while a woman was hurt while running to safety. The military responded with airstrikes on what it said was underground Hamas facilities, stating that seven rockets had been fired and that six were intercepted. 

That came after an airstrike targeted a Hamas military target, which included a rocket-building site, according to the military, in response to the firing of three rockets that were intercepted. 

Earlier in the night, the military struck targets in Gaza after two rockets launched from the enclave landed in open areas and caused no damage. 

Earlier Thursday, Israeli tanks attacked Hamas military positions in the Gaza Strip in retaliation for explosive-laden balloons launched from the coastal enclave into Israel, the army said in a statement.  

On Wednesday, firefighting and rescue services said that balloon bombs sent from Gaza ignited 28 fires in the Sha'ar HaNegev and Eshkol regional councils near the border fence. Most of the fires were small and did not pose danger.

In addition, a balloon attached to a suspicious object was located near a house in Eshkol. A police sapper was called to the scene to defuse the object.  

On Tuesday, Israeli fighter jets attacked several underground Hamas targets in the strip after incendiary balloons caused multiple fires in the country's south.

Earlier, 19 fires broke out in southern Israel after incendiary balloons were launched into Israeli territory from the enclave, the Israel Fire and Rescue Services said. 

Jack Khoury contributed to this report. 

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