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The Israeli military said on Wednesday it carried out overnight strikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip after incendiary “balloons” were launched across the border from the Palestinian enclave.
The army said the strikes were "retaliation" for the launching of multiple balloons from the Hamas-run enclave in recent days.
Jets, attack helicopters and tanks struck a number of Hamas targets including "underground infrastructure and observation posts," a statement said.
Fire services in southern Israel said the balloons caused 60 fires on Tuesday alone but reported no casualties.
Explosives tied to balloons and kites first emerged as a weapon in Gaza during intense protests in 2018, when the makeshift devices drifted across the border daily, causing thousands of fires in Israeli farms and communities.
Israel has closed its Kerem Shalom goods crossing with the Gaza Strip in response to the recent balloon launches.
The Palestinian territory has been under an Israeli blockade since 2007.
Hamas and Israel have fought three wars since 2008.
Despite a truce last year, backed by the UN, Egypt and Qatar, the two sides clash sporadically with rockets, mortar fire or incendiary balloons.
Palestinian analysts say cross-border fire from Gaza is often used as a bargaining tool to secure Israel's green light for the entry of Qatari financial aid into the territory.Agence France-Presse
An early-morning military statement said there had been airborne explosive and incendiary attacks into southern Israel on Saturday. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
The Israeli army said the strikes were a response to explosive balloons launched by Hamas-affiliated group over the border, and attempts by Palestinian protesters to throw explosives at the Israel-Gaza perimeters fence and soldiers stationed along it.
The army said that in addition to cross-border attacks with explosives and incendiary devices suspended from balloons, dozens of people had also "instigated riots along the Gaza Strip security fence" on Sunday evening.
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