A balloon-borne explosive device launched from the Gaza Strip detonated over a community in southern Israel Wednesday, as tensions along the border rose.
The explosion caused neither injury nor damage, but came as Gazans have stepped up launches of balloon-borne incendiary devices into Israel, with many of them being blamed for wildfires.
“An explosive balloon detonated near a community in the Eshkol region. Residents reported a loud blast heard in the community,” a local government spokesperson said.
It was the first such explosive attack from the Gaza Strip since Israel and terror groups in the coastal enclave reached an unofficial ceasefire agreement following two days of intense fighting in early May.
As part of an Egyptian-brokered agreement to end the flareup, Gaza’s Hamas rulers were reportedly obliged to halt the launching of incendiary balloons at Israeli communities, among other measures to rein in violence along the border.
Though violence has ebbed since the ceasefire was reached, arson attacks from the Strip have continued intermittently, with the local fire department reporting six fires were started Wednesday in southern Israel as a result of incendiary and explosive devices flown from Gaza.
On Tuesday, seven fires in southern Israel were sparked by balloon-borne incendiary devices from Gaza, prompting Israel to announce in response that it will further scale back the Gaza fishing zone from 10 nautical miles to six.
For the past several months, Israel has been extending and reducing the permitted fishing zone around Gaza as fewer or more incendiary balloons have been sent over the border.
Also Wednesday, a rocket fired from Gaza during last month’s fighting was believed to have caused an explosion in a cemetery east of the southern port city of Ashdod.
The rocket apparently landed at the site, in the town of Be’er Tuvia, but did not explode on impact.
No one was hurt in the incident.