Israel Strikes Hamas Positions in Gaza in Response to Launching of Incendiary Balloons

This marks the first escalation in violence since a cease-fire ended 11 days of conflict between Israel and Hamas last month

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Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, June 2021.
Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, June 2021.Credit: MAHMUD HAMS - AFP

Israeli fighter jets struck Hamas positions in Gaza in response to incendiary balloons launched from the Strip at Israel, the IDF said in a statement Tuesday overnight.

The airstrikes targeted Hamas military positions that housed operatives in Khan Yunis and Gaza City, the IDF said.

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The army added that it's "ready for all scenarios, including renewed fighting in the face of continued terrorist acts emanating from Gaza."

Twenty fires broke out in Israel close to the Gaza border due to explosive-laden balloons launched from the Strip on Tuesday in response to the Jerusalem Flag March.

The Flag March is an annual event in which right-wing Jewish groups parade through the Old City carrying Israeli flags to celebrate the reunification of Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War.

Palestinian in Gaza protest the Israeli ultranationalist Flag March in Jerusalem's Old City, June 2021. Credit: MAHMUD HAMS - AFP

Islamic Jihad had called on Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank to be present along the route of the Flag March and “protect the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” while Hamas warned that "Israeli aggression against Al-Aqsa" would be met with violence.

Tuesday's exchange of fire marks the first escalation in violence since a cease-fire ended 11 days of conflict between Israel and Hamas last month, in which 13 people in Israel were killed by rockets and at least 248 Palestinians were killed in Israeli attacks in Gaza.

It also marks the first time Naftali Bennett is confronted with the ongoing tensions in Gaza after being sworn in as Israel's Prime Minister.

Both Israel and Hamas have said the Egyptian brokered cease-fire was fragile.

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