Israel strikes Gaza after incendiary balloons cause fires
The arson attack followed an Israeli nationalist rally in disputed Jerusalem. The incident threatened the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas and tested Israel’s new government.
MAHMUD HAMS/AFP via Getty Images
June 16, 2021
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) conducted airstrikes in Gaza early Wednesday morning following incendiary balloons being fired at Israel on Tuesday. It constituted the largest escalation since Israel and Hamas signed a cease-fire last month.
The IDF said in a tweet that its fighter jets struck Hamas targets
in the Palestinian enclave in response to the balloons. Palestinians in Gaza sometimes send balloons loaded with flammable material into Israel. This latest arson attack resulted in 26 fires
in Israeli communities near Gaza, according to The Times of Israel.
The Hamas-affiliated Safa news outlet reported
that the Israeli airstrikes hit near Khan Yunis and Gaza city. The strikes targeted “resistance” locations and there were no injuries, according to the outlet. Hamas and allied Palestinian groups often refer to themselves as the “resistance.” Safa also published a picture of a large explosion purportedly caused by the airstrikes.
Israel battled Hamas and its allies for several days last month before an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire took effect. Hundreds of people died in the fighting, most of whom were Palestinians. The war was also the result of unrest in Jerusalem
surrounding the city’s holy sites and the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
The strikes are the biggest escalation since the cease-fire took effect. Two Palestinian security officers were also killed during a firefight
with Israeli forces in the West Bank last week. Israeli forces also shot dead
a Palestinian teenager while dispersing a protest in the Palestinian territory that week.
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