By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – Israel confirmed Tuesday that it launched airstrikes against Gaza after incendiary balloons launched from the Palestinian strip started fires in the country’s south. Militants of the ruling Hamas Islamist movement reportedly fired on the Israeli aircraft carrying out the raids, which destroyed a weapons manufacturing site and other targets.
Monday’s strikes followed weekend border clashes in which dozens were injured, Israeli and Palestinian officials said.
There were no reported casualties in the raids on Gaza City, Khan Younes in the south, and Jabalia in the north. However, “they did cause material damage,” French News Agency AFP quoted a Palestinian security source as saying on condition of anonymity.
In a statement, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) confirmed that fighter jets attacked a Hamas weapons manufacturing site in Khan Yunis and terror tunnel entrance in Jabalia.
“All summer, Hamas launched arson balloons from Gaza into Israel,” said the IDF in a statement monitored by Worthy News. “In response to Hamas’ renewed attacks today, we struck a weapons manufacturing site, rocket launch site, and tunnel entrances in Gaza.”
It added that the targeted Hamas underground rocket launch site was located adjacent to civilian homes and a school in Shejaiya.
Israel frequently responds to incendiary balloon launches with airstrikes, including when such devices were used on August 6. Observers say they are a common tactic used by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, under a strict Israeli blockade since 2007, when Hamas took power there.
Israel’s fire service said earlier it was working to contain several fires in the Eshkol border region, which it blamed on at least nine incendiary balloons launched from Gaza.
Monday’s escalation came exactly three months since Israel and Hamas reached a truce following their deadliest fighting in years.
The latest tensions also followed clashes on the border, which saw Israeli troops fired at Palestinian protesters after they reportedly hurled explosives and tried to scale the border wall.
An Israeli border police officer and a 13-year-old Palestinian were critically injured, news reports said. Over 11 days in May, Israel pounded Gaza with airstrikes in response to rockets fired from the enclave.
Palestinian officials claim Israeli strikes killed 260 Palestinians, including fighters. Israel counters that munitions fired by militants in the territory killed 13 people in Israel, including a soldier. Israel also accuses Hamas of placing militants and weapons in or near civilian targets such as schools, hospitals, and homes, which increases the death toll in air raids.
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