An explosives-laden balloon, likely flown from the Gaza Strip, was found hanging from a tree near a Chabad house in the southern city of Sderot on Sunday.
Recent days have seen several instances of balloons carrying incendiary devices and explosive packages flown into Israel and Sunday’s incident came only a day after a bunch of balloons tied to a suspected bomb was found near Kibbutz Sde Boker in the Negev.
A second batch of balloons connected to an incendiary device was discovered in the Ramat Negev Regional Council on Saturday. It was neutralized by sappers.
On Thursday, five suspicious balloons were floated into Israel, including a soccer ball attached to an explosive device that landed in an open area of the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council.
גם אחרי התקיפה של צהל, נמשכים שיגורי בלוני הנפץ לעבר שטח ישראל. לפני זמן קצר אותר בלון נפץ על עץ בשדרות. כוחות משטרה במקום. pic.twitter.com/cfmVBJvypj
— almog boker (@bokeralmog) January 26, 2020
Sunday’s incident in Sderot came after Israeli jets struck a number of targets in the southern Gaza Strip late Saturday night in response to the uptick in balloon attacks.
The targets included a weapon-manufacturing depot and a military post operated by Hamas, the Palestinian terror group that rules Gaza.
There were no reports of injuries from the airstrikes in southern Gaza.
The Israel Defense Forces said that it would “continue to act as necessary against attempts to harm its citizens.”
“The Hamas terror group is responsible for everything that occurs in the Gaza Strip and will bear the consequences for terror attacks against Israeli citizens,” the military said.
Israeli television last week reported that Egypt is involved in “intense efforts” to get Hamas to end the arson balloon attacks on Israel from Gaza amid fears of a return to violence.
There was no official confirmation of the report from Egypt or Hamas.
A senior Hamas official said Tuesday that the recent spate of balloons was a signal to Israel to accelerate unofficial “understandings” meant to ease the blockade on the territory ruled by the terror group.
Speaking to journalists, Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said the balloons had been launched by disgruntled individuals, not Hamas. But he said his group was “satisfied” with the launches and is ready to send more “if the occupation doesn’t pick up the message.”
The UN’s Mideast envoy, Nickolay Mladenov, called the renewed balloon launches “concerning and regrettable” in a briefing to the Security Council on Tuesday. “These actions are a risk to the civilian population,” he said.