Israeli fighter jets struck Hamas targets in response to the launching of incendiary balloons on Friday, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit announced.
The Hamas military base attacked by the IDF, August 7th 2021 (Credit: IDF’S SPOKESPERSON’S UNIT)
The IDF said it struck a Hamas military camp and a rocket-launching position in the northern Gazan city of Jabalya, adding that it would “continue to respond with strikes to terror attempts from Gaza.”
At least four fires broke out in the Eshkol Regional Council after incendiary balloons were launched from the blockaded coastal enclave. Three of the fires were in the Kissufim forest while the other broke out near the community of Be’eri, said Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF).
The head of COGAT, Maj.-Gen. Ghassan Alian addressed residents of the Gaza Strip via Facebook in response to the fires.
“Are you really willing to endanger your daily lives for the sake of balloons?” he asked. “Have you not had enough of this endless circle that leads you nowhere? Are these balloons worth more than the shrinking of your fishing zone? Maintaining the quiet and security in the region will better your economy,” he wrote.
Gazans have been launching thousands of incendiary balloons into southern Israel for the past three years, burning thousands of dunams, killing countless animals, and causing significant damage to agricultural fields as well as nature reserves and private property.
Several of these incendiary devices have also carried explosive devices such as rocket-propelled grenades. Though most have landed in communities close to the Gaza Strip, others have landed close to 70 kilometers away.
Since the end of Operation Guardian of the Walls in May, Jerusalem has blocked the transfer of Qatari money into the Hamas-run enclave after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that he wanted a new mechanism for the aid to be distributed, arguing that the current lack of oversight allows the terror group to siphon off the funds. However, according to a report in the Palestinian al-Quds daily, the UN will oversee the transfer of the funds.
Though a system to transfer the aid to Hamas has been found, according to a report in Ynet News, the Palestinian Authority’s banking systems are refusing to take part, fearing that their cooperation would expose them to legal actions on the grounds of supporting and funding terrorism.
Hamas has in turn warned to resume violence if the funds are not allowed to enter Gaza.
In the three months since the 11 days of fighting between Israel and Gaza, dozens of incendiary and explosive balloons have been launched. In return, the Israeli army has struck Hamas targets in Gaza.
Israel has vowed that incendiary balloons would be treated like rocket attacks towards Israeli communities.
The last strikes two weeks ago targeted several buildings in a Hamas military base as well as infrastructure and utilities used for the group’s activities. The base was adjacent to civilian sites, including a school.
Israel has seen multiple fires break out across the country over the last few days, most notably in and around the Jerusalem area, as the long dry heat waves caused forest fires to catch and spread more easily.
The airstrikes in Gaza came several hours after Hezbollah fired a barrage of 19 rockets from south Lebanon into Israel. The IDF responded with artillery fire towards the launch site.