Israeli Army Strikes Hamas Targets in Gaza in Response to Explosive-laden Balloons

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Smoke rises following an IDF attack in the Gaza Strip, August 13, 2020
File photo: Smoke rises following an IDF strike in the Gaza Strip, August 13, 2020Credit: AFP

The military attacked underground facilities and military posts belonging to Hamas in the southern Gaza Strip on the night between Sunday and Monday,  according to an army statement.

The attack, which used plans and tanks, was carried out in response to the launching of explosive-laden balloons from Gaza and the fires that broke out in Israel during the day, the statement read.

The army said it was conducting an ongoing situation assessment and "will act firmly and resolutely against any attempt to carry out terrorist activity against the citizens of the State of Israel and the violation of its sovereignty."

On Saturday, Israeli tanks struck Hamas military positions in the southern Gaza Strip in response to a rocket that was launched earlier from the coastal enclave, the army said in a statement.

In the early hours of Friday, the army attacked Hamas targets in the southern Strip 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

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

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."

Clusters of balloons launched from the strip have carried different kinds of explosives, police and local councils have said. On several occasions in recent weeks police sappers were called to disarm bombs attached to balloons. 

Hundreds of fires have broken out in Israeli fields in recent weeks after Hamas and other factions in Gaza began launching the balloons amid "stuck" understandings and agreements, a senior Hamas official said.

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