Army investigating after IDF missile fired at Gaza lands by kibbutz cowshed
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Army investigating after IDF missile fired at Gaza lands by kibbutz cowshed

Missile, launched in response to arson balloon attacks, does not explode but damages structure; army investigating misfire by its chopper

Damage at a kibbutz close to the Gaza border after an unexploded IDF missile hits an agricultural structure, August 12, 2020 (Courtesy Eshkol Security)
Damage at a kibbutz close to the Gaza border after an unexploded IDF missile hits an agricultural structure, August 12, 2020 (Courtesy Eshkol Security)

The Israel Defense Forces said Wednesday that it had opened an investigation after a missile landed inside an Israeli community when it was fired by a helicopter gunship toward the Gaza Strip in response to incendiary balloon attacks.

The missile fell near a cowshed and did not explode. There were no reports of injuries caused by the projectile landing in the unnamed kibbutz close to the border with the Gaza Strip, but a structure was damaged.

Sappers arrived on the scene to remove the missile.

The incident occurred as Israeli helicopter gunships and tanks attacked at least three sites in the Gaza Strip in the early hours of the morning in response to a rash of airborne arson attacks that sparked more than 60 fires in Israel.

The IDF said its forces targeted “a military base, underground infrastructure and observation posts belonging to the Hamas terror group.”

The Hamas-linked Al-Resalah news said Israeli aircraft fired several missiles at “agricultural land” east of Rafah in southern Gaza, and two Hamas observation posts in central Gaza were shelled.

Smoke and flames rise after Israeli aircraft carried out airstrikes near the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah on August 12, 2020. (Photo by SAID KHATIB / AFP)

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The IDF said the strikes were in response to the arson attacks over the last week and noted that Israel holds Hamas responsible for all violence emanating from the territory. The strikes came hours after Israeli leaders threatened Gaza’s Hamas rulers that Israel would take “forceful” action if the airborne arson attacks were not brought under control.

Balloon-borne incendiary devices launched from the Gaza Strip sparked at least 60 fires in southern Israel throughout Tuesday, according to firefighters. Officials said most were small fires, but some caused damage.

Tensions on the Gaza border have intensified in recent days, with balloon-borne incendiary devices igniting dozens of fires across southern Israel.

Palestinians prepare a flammable object to be flown toward Israel, near the Israel-Gaza border, in the eastern part of the Gaza Strip, August 10, 2020. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

The Hamas terror group, which rules the Strip, has also threatened to renew rocket fire and there have been a number of small fire exchanges. No injuries have been reported.

In response to the fires, Israel announced it was shutting the Kerem Shalom commercial crossing into Gaza, halting all goods but fuel, humanitarian products and food.

Hamas called the closure of the commercial crossing an aggressive action and a crime for which the Jewish state “bears all consequences and repercussions.”

Fires in southern Israel on August 11, 2020. (Courtesy Eshkol Regional Council)

The practice of launching balloon-borne incendiary and explosive devices from the Gaza Strip toward Israel has waxed and waned over the past two years, with an uptick since the end of last week.

Leaders of communities near the Palestinian enclave have demanded the government and military take action to stem the launches.

Tensions along the Gaza border have risen over the past week, reportedly due to delays in the implementation of an ongoing ceasefire agreement between the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group and the Israeli government.

Reports Tuesday said Israel was working to get Qatar to continue sending cash to Gaza in a bid to east tensions with Hamas.

Agencies and Aaron Boxerman contributed to this report.

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