Israel Strikes Gaza Targets in Response to Balloon Bombs as Hamas Tension Grows

The army said it targeted Hamas positions in the northern Strip, capping a day of cross-border incidents

Almog Ben Zikri
Almog Ben Zikri
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Fire sparked by explosive-laden balloon flown from Gaza, The Israeli side of the border, August 7, 2020.
Fire sparked by explosive-laden balloon flown from Gaza, The Israeli side of the border, August 7, 2020.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz
Almog Ben Zikri
Almog Ben Zikri

The Israeli army said late Sunday it struck targets in the northern Gaza Strip, responding to two small fires that started hours earlier in southern Israel due to explosive-laden balloons sent from Gaza.

There was no immediate report of casualties in the Israeli strike, which the army said targeted Hamas surveillance posts.

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Earlier on Sunday, the army said Palestinians fired at Israeli soldiers along the Gaza border, adding there were no casualties in the incident.

The Israel Defense Forces' statement said that troops were called to the scene after reports of gunfire in the area where construction work was being done on the border fence. 

“In response, they halted work along the border and the army responded with mortar fire to give a smokescreen to the troops. Shortly after, shots were fired at the IDF soldiers that were called to the scene,” the statement said.

On Saturday, a Hamas official in the Gaza Strip told Haaretz that the explosive-laden balloons that have been launched into Israel in recent days are meant to send a message to Israel and international bodies.

The senior Hamas official said that the resumption, if unofficial, of the balloon launches points to growing pressure and anger in the Strip over the lack of progress in cease-fire agreements between Israel and the Palestinian factions.

According to the official, the understandings shrank down to an installment of $100 to poor families, financed by Qatar, which he said was insufficient. “They said there were understandings and agreements to move forward with infrastructure and humanitarian projects, but everything appears to be stuck,” he said.

A suspicious object attached to a cluster of balloons was discovered in an agricultural area within the Eshkol Regional Council, which borders the Gaza Strip. The council said a police sapper and members of the security services were sent to the site. In addition, there were reports of a possible explosion of a balloon bomb in the area of nearby Netivot.

Israeli aircraft hit Hamas underground infrastructure of the northern Strip late Thursday night, the IDF said, adding that the strike was in retaliation for the latest explosive-laden balloon launches.

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