Two Days Into 'Cease-fire': Rocket Fired From Gaza at Israel Hours After IDF Hits Hamas Targets

Israeli military says its aircraft attacked Hamas targets near where flammable balloons were being launched at Israel

Netanyahu visiting Sderot, July 16, 2018.
Ilan Assayag

The Israeli military and Palestinian fighters exchanged fire on Monday, two days after a cease-fire momentarily halted the most widespread escalation of fighting since the 2014 war.

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The Israeli military struck two Hamas targets in northern Gaza on Monday, the army confirmed. A rocket was fired from Gaza at southern Israel hours later, though the army reported that it exploded in Gaza territory.

An IDF statement said the targets were near where incendiary balloons were being launched at Israel. It said the attack was launched in response to "fire terrorism" lead by Hamas against Israel.

Smoke raises in the background following an Israeli airstrike hits a governmental building in Gaza City , Saturday, July 14, 2018
Khalil Hamra/AP

The strikes are the first after security cabinet instructed the military on Sunday to continue responding to airborne firebombs being launched from Gaza toward Israel.

There were no immediate reports of any casualties. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in response: "The threats by senior Israelis will not hurt the desire of the Palestinian people to continue the struggle with all means at their disposal, to achieve their rights, first and foremost, removal of the siege. And it will not deter resistance forces to continue defensive action on behalf of the Palestinian people."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that the "exchange of blows" with Hamas was not over. Speaking during a visit to the southern city of Sderot, the prime minister said "It does not end with a single blow."

This was Netanyahu's first visit to an Israeli community near the Gaza border since the beginning of airborne firebombs started being launched toward Israel. During the visit, Netanyahu referred to reports about a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip. "There is no such thing as a cease-fire for us that excludes the flaming kites and the balloons."

"For a hundred years we have been fighting terrorism, fighting it with force. In this place at the moment, this is the line of friction between Islamic terror and the Jewish state, and we are determined to win. It involves an exchange of blows, it's not over yet," Netanyahu said.

A fire broke out on Monday near Kibbutz Karmiye near the Gaza border. Firefighters were working on several fronts, also trying to douse the flames by aircraft, but the blaze has not yet been brought under control. Investigators were looking into whether the flames were caused by a burning kite or balloon.

Israel deployed on Sunday an Iron Dome anti-missile defense system in the Tel Aviv area following escalation with Gaza over the weekend.

A cease-fire between Israel and Hamas was announced Saturday night, after almost 200 projectiles were fired at Israeli communities from Gaza. Despite the deal, a number of rockets were fired overnight from Gaza and Israel said it attacked on Sunday Palestinians in Gaza who were launching airborne firebombs from Gaza.