Israeli tanks strike Hamas posts in Gaza in response to arson balloons

Saturday saw at least 23 fires sparked by airborne incendiary devices; no immediate reports of casualties in the Strip

Illustrative: An Israeli army tank patrols along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip on May 29, 2018. (Jack GUEZ/AFP)
Illustrative: An Israeli army tank patrols along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip on May 29, 2018. (Jack GUEZ/AFP)

Israeli tanks carried out strikes against Hamas posts in the Gaza Strip early Sunday morning in response to the previous day’s launching of airborne incendiary devices into Israel, which sparked at least 23 fires in the south of the country.

There were no immediate reports of casualties on the Palestinian side.

Most of the fires that erupted in Israel Saturday were minor, Israel’s Fire and Rescue Services said.

Recent weeks have seen dozens of balloons carrying flammable or explosive devices flown into Israel every day, lighting blazes throughout the region. Some days have also seen rockets launched by Gaza terror groups.

Saturday’s events came as Qatar’s envoy to the Hamas-run coastal enclave was in the Strip seeking to deescalate ongoing tensions between the terror group and Israel that have led to daily attacks on Israel, and to IDF reprisal strikes. Mohammed al-Emadi is said to have left the territory briefly on Saturday afternoon to speak with Israeli officials before returning, according to Hamas-linked media.

A fireman seeks to put out a blaze caused by an arson balloon lofted from Gaza toward Israeli border communities on August 26, 2020. (Eshkol Regional Council)

Al-Emadi arrived in Gaza on Tuesday with $30 million in cash. The money is earmarked to help the territory of two million people, half of whom live under the poverty line, sources close to the envoy told AFP this week.

The uptick in violence along the border is thought to be linked to Hamas demands for increased cash transfers from Qatar to the Strip.

On Saturday, the pro-Hezbollah Al-Akhbar newspaper reported that the military wings of terror organizations in the Gaza Strip were preparing for a long-term joint campaign against Israel. The newspaper also reported that the groups have now started to coordinate efforts to increase the number and frequency of incendiary balloons launched toward Israel.

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