Israel strikes Hamas targets in Gaza in response to arson balloons
The Israeli army said its fighter jets struck a number of Hamas targets early on Wednesday morning, in response to incendiary balloons launched into southern Israel from the Gaza Strip in recent days which have burned swathes of land.
A military compound, underground infrastructures and observation posts belonging to the radical Islamist Hamas movement that rules Gaza were struck, according to the army.
Palestinian eyewitnesses said that during the strikes, masked young men launched more incendiary balloons carrying explosives from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel and that an Israeli army reconnaissance drone fired a missile at them while they were doing so. The group of men survived, according to the eyewitnesses.
There had been a lull in what Israel describes as "balloon terrorism" since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, but incidents have recently started up again.
Hamas is considered a terrorist organisation by Israel, the United States and the European Union.
Israel on Tuesday closed its only border crossing for goods deliveries to the Gaza Strip, in reaction to the incendiary balloons. Only essential humanitarian goods and fuel are now allowed to enter via the Kerem Shalom crossing.
Israel captured Gaza from Egypt in the 1967 Six-Day War, but unilaterally pulled out its army and evacuated its settlements in the Strip in 2005.
Israel, however, continues to control Gaza's borders, along with Egypt.
Israel frequently closes crossings in response to rocket fire and violence along the border. (dpa)