Israel Strikes Hamas Targets in Gaza Following Incendiary Balloons

The airstrikes targeted a Hamas weapons manufacturing site, tunnels and a rocket launching site, the Israeli military said, after incendiary balloons set off fires near the Gaza border

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A firefighter works in southern Israel, Monday.
A firefighter works in southern Israel, Monday.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Israeli fighter jets struck Hamas targets in Gaza Monday night, following the launching of incendiary balloons from the Strip that started several fires in the south.

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The airstrikes targeted a weapons manufacturing site in Khan Younis, Hamas tunnel shafts in Jabalya, north of Gaza City, and a rocket launching site adjacent to a school in Shujaiyeh, according to the IDF.

Palestinian media also reported that Israeli strikes targeted a Hamas training compound in Khan Younis.

Three fires were started near the Gaza border in southern Israel on Sunday, with the fire and rescue service attributing them to incendiary balloons launched from Gaza. The service said that nine balloons had landed in Eshkol Regional Council, and possibly another one in Sdot Negev Regional Council.

The fires came two days after a protest by Palestinians in Gaza at the border fence that turned into clashes with soldiers in which a 13-year-old Palestinian and a 21-year-old Israeli soldier were critically wounded.

Palestinian organizations in Gaza decided last week to resume protests at the border fence amid stalled negotiations over the transfer of Qatari aid money into the enclave. Qatar announced on Thursday that an agreement had been reached with the United Nations on transferring the money after a four-month delay.

Israeli defense officials believe that Hamas is ready for another round of fighting with Israel following the clashes. The assessment is that Hamas has an array of rockets that will suffice for another round of fighting, since its rocket caches weren’t badly hit during the last round in May.

Egyptian security sources said Monday that Cairo will close the Rafah crossing on its border with Gaza until further notice. According to two Egyptian security sources, the closure was made for security reasons following the escalation on Saturday. Rafah is the sole crossing between Egypt and Gaza, where an Israeli-led blockade has placed severe restrictions on the movement of goods and people for years.

Protests along the border fence first began in March 2018 and continued until the end of 2019. Over 200 Palestinians were killed by Israeli military fire during the weekly protests.

Last week, rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel for the first time since the fighting in May.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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