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IDF strikes Hamas targets in Gaza following latest arson balloon attacks

Army confirms hitting several sites in Strip, after 28 fires sparked in Israel throughout the day by airborne incendiary devices

Illustrative: An Israeli tank takes position on the Israel Gaza border. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
Illustrative: An Israeli tank takes position on the Israel Gaza border. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

The Israel Defense Forces carried out strikes in the Gaza Strip Wednesday night in response to ongoing attacks emanating from the Palestinian territory.

The army said tanks struck Hamas military targets in the enclave in reaction to continued arson attacks and rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled Strip.

Over the past week, terrorists in the enclave have again begun launching balloon-borne incendiary and explosive devices into southern Israel, sparking dozens of fires that caused environmental and property damage in the region.

There have also been several rocket attacks on southern Israeli towns, which so far have caused no casualties and little damage.

Those attacks have drawn daily retaliatory Israeli strikes against Hamas installations.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz told local leaders in southern Israel Wednesday that all acts of violence emanating from Gaza will be met with a response.

“The State of Israel has no interest in the Gaza Strip besides the return of the boys and complete quiet,” he added. Hamas is holding civilians Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, two Israelis who entered Gaza of their own accord. It is also holding the bodies of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, who were killed in 2014.

Gantz said if that if those conditions were to be met, “we can develop Gaza.”

Fire services said there were 28 blazes in the south sparked on Wednesday by balloon-borne incendiary devices launched from Gaza.

Israeli soldiers extinguish a fire near Kibbutz Kissufim caused by an incendiary balloon launched from the Gaza Strip on August 19, 2020. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

On Tuesday, Gaza officials announced that the Strip’s sole power station had run out of fuel and would stop operating. Israel last Thursday cut off fuel transfers via the Kerem Shalom crossing as a punitive measure following the rocket ad balloon attacks.

Also on Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would respond to airborne arson attacks in the same manner it does rocket attacks, and warned that there could be another major flareup in Gaza.

“I regret that we are also preparing, to the extent necessary, for the possibility of a round or rounds. I hope that we will not get there,” he told local leaders of Gaza-area communities.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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