The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said they targeted a “military compound and a rocket launch site” allegedly operated by Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip. The strikes were carried out Thursday night in retaliation to incendiary balloons launched from Gaza, the IDF said.
The missiles reportedly hit the city of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, which became the target of Israeli raids for a second day in a row, as well as the town of Beit Lahia, north of Gaza city.
Eight fires, including seven in the Eshkol region and one in a field near Shaar Hanegev, were sparked by the balloons on Thursday, following four on Wednesday, Israeli media reported.
Shortly after Israel bombed out the alleged Hamas sites, sirens sounded in the Kfar Aza kibbutz in southern Israel, with the IDF claiming the alerts were triggered by “incoming fire, not rockets.”
CCTV footage emerged purporting to show the moment a barrage of machine gun fire was directed towards the community.
The eruption of violence followed a controversial ‘Flag March’ through Jerusalem earlier this week, organized by Israeli nationalist groups to commemorate Tel Aviv’s victory in the 1967 Six Day War, when it captured East Jerusalem. Initially scheduled for May, the event was postponed as tensions gave way to fighting in Gaza at the tail end of the Ramadan holiday, which lasted for 11 days. Though the route of the march was ultimately redirected in an effort to avoid clashes, skirmishes in Jerusalem and elsewhere broke out regardless, seeing several injuries and more than a dozen Palestinians arrested.
Thursday’s strikes mark the second flare-up since the last Israel-Gaza ceasefire, brokered by Egypt last month on the heels of a bloody war that killed more than 250 Palestinians and 13 in Israel. It is also the first military operation carried out under a new Israeli coalition government, which took the reins from the long-time PM Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday.
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