Israel on Wednesday claimed to have carried out airstrikes in Gaza after Palestinians launched incendiary balloons from the territory, in the first major flare-up since an 11-day conflict last month, reports said.
This is the first violent exchange since Israeli’s new coalition government came to power last weekend, headed by Naftali Bennett and drawing an end to Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year run as prime minister.
The attack also comes 25 days after the first major flare-up that ended on May 21 after both sides decided on a ceasefire.
The Israeli military said it targeted compounds belonging to Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza. The incendiary balloons sparked 20 fires in southern Israel on Tuesday, reports said.
Reports quoting Hamas, said they were a response to a march by Israeli nationalists in occupied East Jerusalem. There were no casualties on either side and calm had been restored by this morning.
Quoting a statement of Israel Defense Forces (IDF), reports said its fighter jets had hit military compounds operated by Hamas in Khan Yunis and Gaza City.
It said “terrorist activity” took place in the compound, and that the IDF was “prepared for all scenarios, including the resumption of hostilities, in the face of continued terror acts from the Gaza Strip”.
The “arson balloons” caused around 20 fires in southern Israel, local firefighters were quoted by international reports as saying. The incendiary balloons were sent as more than a thousand ultranationalist demonstrators bearing Israeli flags poured into Jerusalem’s flashpoint Old City on Tuesday.
Last week on Sunday, Benjamin Netanyahu lost his 12-year-old grip on power as the Knesset approved Naftali Bennett as Israel’s new Prime Minister.
Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving Prime Minister, is on trial for fraud, and he fell short of obtaining majority support after the general election in March this year — the country’s fourth inconclusive vote in two years.