World Politics

Israeli military says it fired rockets at Gaza over incendiary balloons

Dartunorro Clark
Explosions light-up the night sky above buildings in Gaza City as Israeli forces shell the Palestinian enclave, early on June 16, 2021.
Mahmud Hams | AFP | Getty Images

The Israeli military said early Wednesday morning that it had used warplanes to raid compounds in Gaza after officials claimed that Hamas had sent incendiary balloons into Israel — the first such violence since a cease-fire between the two last month ended 11 days of fighting.

"A short while ago, warplanes raided military compounds belonging to Hamas, which were used as camps and meeting sites for terrorist operatives in Khan Yunis and Gaza districts," an Israeli Defense Forces spokesman said in a tweet on Wednesday, according to a translation. "Terrorist activities have taken place inside the compounds."

Their military said the raids came in response to shooting from the strip towards Israeli territory.

"The IDF is prepared for all scenarios, including renewed fighting, in the face of the continuation of terrorist acts emanating from [Hamas]," the IDF said in a tweet.

It comes after hundreds of Israeli citizens, some chanting "Death to Arabs," marched through east Jerusalem on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. Palestinians in Gaza responded by launching incendiary balloons, which often carry Molotov cocktails or other combustible devices to targets, which caused at least 10 fires in southern Israel, the AP reported.

Media reports from the region did not indicate casualties in the airstrikes. Palestinians considered the march to be a provocation, but Hamas called on Palestinians to "resist" the parade as to not ignite another war, according to the AP.

The protests and raids come after an unlikely coalition recently came together to oust former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu after 12 consecutive years in power, and another three before that — the country's longest-tenured leader.

Israel's new coalition successfully ousts Netanyahu

After the new government was sworn in earlier this month, Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud party moved to the opposition for the first time in more than a decade.

Naftali Bennett, his former protege and a right-wing leader, will serve as the next prime minister, holding office for the first two years of the new government's term. He will then hand the role to Yair Lapid, the leader of the centrist Yesh Atid party.