IDF strikes Hamas targets in Gaza after border infiltration
Air force conducts raids in southern Strip in response to four Palestinian suspects who breached fence, threw firebomb
Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.
Israeli aircraft carried out a series of strikes against Hamas positions in the southern Gaza Strip late Saturday night, following a border breach earlier in the day, the army said.
“The Israel Defense Forces, using fighter jets, attacked a number of terror targets in an military compound belonging to the Hamas terror group in the southern Gaza Strip,” the army said in a statement.
Palestinian media reported that the airstrikes hit a number of Hamas positions in the areas of Rafah and Khan Younis.
The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said it had not received any reports of injuries.
The army said its airstrikes were in response to the infiltration earlier in the day.
“The IDF takes seriously the continued daily attempts by the Hamas terror group to damage the security infrastructure in Israel, while threatening the security of residents and soldiers,” the army said.
As a matter of policy, the Israeli army considers Hamas, which rules Gaza, to be responsible for any attack emanating from the beleaguered coastal enclave.
On Saturday morning, IDF soldiers spotted four Palestinians who crossed the security fence into Israel from the southern Gaza Strip.
According to the army, the four threw a petrol bomb, and left a tent inside Israel with the message: “March of Return: Returning to the lands of Palestine.”
The soldiers arrived to the scene moments later and opened fire at the individuals, who in turn fled back to the Palestinian side of the fence. No injuries were reported in the Saturday morning incident.
The infiltration was one of numerous attempts over the weekend to breach and damage the border fence, the IDF said.
Dozens of burning kites were flown from Gaza across the border over the weekend, sparking several fires in Israeli fields, Hadashot TV news reported Saturday night. In the past month, 300 “attack” kites have been flown across the border, the report said, setting off 100 fires.
Since March 30, tens of thousands of Palestinians have taken part in weekly protests which Israel says are orchestrated by Hamas and used as cover for attempted terror attacks and breaches of the border fence.
The violent demonstrations were meant to end on May 15, but Hamas leaders have said they want them to continue.
Over 10,000 Gazans took part in the demonstrations in the course of Friday and Saturday, the army said.
The demonstrations came to a head on May 14 when the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem and at least 60 Palestinians were killed in clashes — almost all of them Hamas members, the terror group has acknowledged.
The suspects stayed in Israeli territory for about a minute. During the infiltration, the suspects hurled a firebomb that burst into flames & placed a tent with the caption- "The March of the return. Returning to the lands of Palestine." pic.twitter.com/gUsylt72ZZ
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) May 26, 2018
In recent weeks, Gazans have been flying kites into Israel outfitted with Molotov cocktails and containers of burning fuel, setting fire to large swaths of fields.
On Friday, strong winds hampered efforts to control fires which broke out at three points near Kibbutz Kissufim along the Gaza border, after incendiary kites were flown into Israel from the Palestinian coastal enclave.
Military planners have begun implementing new measures to combat the assaults, including options drawn from the IDF’s responses to rocket launches and other terror attacks.
TOI staff contributed to this report.