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Israeli military strikes Gaza for second time this week, after incendiary balloons set off eight fires in southern Israel


On Wednesday night, the IDF struck down what it said were Hamas military compounds and meeting places for the Khan Younis and Gaza brigades of the militant organization that runs Gaza. The airstrikes, the first since the ceasefire took effect last month, were in response to incendiary balloons that set off 20 fires in fields in southern Israel.

Less than 48 hours later, as the balloon launch from Gaza continued, the IDF carried out another round of airstrikes late Thursday evening. The IDF said it targeted military complexes and a Hamas-owned launch site.

As a sign that Israel and Hamas were interested in preventing a full escalation, Hamas did not respond to Wednesday’s airstrikes with rocket fire. However, the situation along the Israel-Gaza border remains fragile, and a miscalculation on either side could trigger an immediate and serious escalation in an environment that has not returned to calm after the month’s fighting. latest.

Earlier Thursday evening, the IDF chief of staff carried out an assessment of the situation, including the possibility of renewed fighting between Israel and Hamas.

Hamas spokesman Abd Al-Lateef Qanoua told CNN: “The occupation will not be able to impose any equation, and what this occupation could not achieve in the recent aggression, it will not be able to achieve. by intimidating our people and bombing land. “

Incendiary balloons

Incendiary balloons are relatively simple devices – helium balloons that often look like children’s birthday party decorations, attached to explosives, or to devices that are preemptively ignited. Activists launch the balloons from Gaza and the winds from the Mediterranean Sea help propel them into Israeli territory.

While activists have been sending balloons to Israel for years, the IDF’s response to airstrikes in Gaza is escalating further. Israeli officials said this was part of a message to Hamas that any provocation will be fought with force.

Former Finance Minister Israel Katz, who was in the cabinet during the last conflict with Gaza last month, said that after this operation, “we decided to change the rules.”

“For every attack in Israel, targeted assassinations and widespread attacks against Hamas targets will be carried out,” he tweeted.

Reporting provided by CNN’s Hadas Gold.

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