As Fires Rage, Israel Says Struck Base Used by Gazans to Launch Burning Kites

No casualties were reported

FILE PHOTO: Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the southern Gaza Strip, May 29, 2018.
Tsafrir Abayov/AP

The Israeli military said Thursday that it struck a base in southern Gaza from which a group of Palestinians tried to launch incendiary kites into Israel.

The statement came after reports in Gaza said an Israeli aircraft fired at a group of Palestinians near a mosque east of Rafah, a city near the Egyptian border. No casualties were reported.

>> The next Gaza war is staring Israel in the face | Analysis

Some 15 fires broke out in Israeli areas near the Gaza border Thursday, with firefighters battling blazes in Be'eri Forest and the communities of Kissufim, Nahal Oz, Ein Hashlosha and Urim.

An Israeli firefighter puts out a fire sparked by incendiary kites sent from Gaza, Eshkol Regional Council, southern Israel, June 18, 2018.
\ Eliyahu Hershkovitz

On Thursday morning, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said those launching burning kites from Gaza should be shot regardless of their age: "they're terrorists and the danger they create must be prevented." 

Erdan also said that Israel might be forced to launch a "large-scale military operation" in the Gaza Strip. "I don't want to launch an operation, but there is a good chance that we will have no other option but to go in so that we can create durable deterrence," he told Army Radio.

The latest developments follow a tumultuous 36 hours during which some 45 rockets were fired from Gaza toward Israel and the IDF struck Hamas targets in the Strip. The first round of Israeli military strikes came in response to burning balloons being launched from Gaza into Israel.

Later on Wednesday, the IDF confirmed its drone had fired at a group of Gazans who were attempting to launch burning kites in the north of the Gaza Strip. In addition, the Israeli military said it fired a warning shot at a group of Palestinians launching flammable balloons from the Strip toward Israel. No casualties were reported.