Israel Defense Forces planes struck a series of targets in Gaza late Sunday evening, hours after incendiary balloons launched from the Strip set off several fires in southern Israel.
The Israel Defense Forces said warplanes hit several buildings at a Hamas military base, as well as “infrastructure and public services used for the activities” of the terrorist group.
He noted that the base was located “next to civilian sites, including a school”, without providing details.
According to Hamas-affiliated al-Resalah, Israeli planes bombed areas west of Gaza City, before hitting east of Khan Younis. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Palestinian media reported that terrorists fired machine guns at Israeli planes over the Gaza Strip, amid airstrikes, and successfully shot down a drone.
An IDF spokesperson said the military was not aware of any reports of downed drones.
The military said the airstrikes came in response to incendiary balloons launched into Israel.
“The IDF will respond aggressively against continued terrorist attempts outside the Gaza Strip,” the IDF said in a statement.
Hamas spokesman Hazem Qasim mocked the Israeli airstrikes as a “failed attempt to show its own helpless power and restore the damaged image of its army after it was shaken” in recent fighting between the two sides.
“The noble resistance is ready to face all options, and it will not allow the occupation to impose its equations either,” Qasim said, referring to the balance of deterrence between Hamas and Israel. .
On Sunday afternoon, Gaza-based terrorist groups launched incendiary balloons into southern Israel, setting off a number of fires, a fire and rescue service investigator determined.
In response to the arson attacks, Israel announced it was cutting the Gaza Strip’s fishing zone in half from 12 nautical miles to six, with immediate effect and until further notice on Sunday evening. Before the May conflict between Israel and Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza, Palestinian fishermen could operate up to 15 nautical miles from the coast.
“This follows the launching of incendiary balloons from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory, which constitutes a violation of Israeli sovereignty,” said Israel’s military liaison with the Palestinians, the coordinator of government activities in the territories. , in a press release.
According to firefighters, three small bushfires were started in the Eshkol region of southern Israel, during the first arson attacks from the Gaza Strip since early July.
“A fire investigator from the Southern District Fire and Rescue Service found the blaze was caused by the launching of incendiary balloons,” a firefighter spokesperson said. No injuries or material damage were reported.
In its statement, COGAT said the attacks were ultimately the responsibility of the Hamas terrorist group, the de facto leader of the Strip.
Hamas has warned of a return to fighting if Israel seeks to further tighten restrictions on the stranded Gaza Strip. The coastal enclave has seen tighter than usual controls since the 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Earlier Sunday, Israeli authorities blocked 25 trucks carrying Qatari-funded fuel from entering the Gaza Strip. An Israeli defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, cited the failure of Palestinian Authority officials in Gaza to coordinate with them.
PA officials in Gaza rejected this claim, saying the United Nations and Qatar were responsible for direct coordination with the Israeli side. The UN and the Qatari envoy’s office in Gaza declined to comment.
“Further restrictions on Gaza will only generate an explosion in the face of the occupation,” Hamas spokesman Abd al-Latif al-Qanou told Hamas official radio on Sunday evening.
The Israeli defense official said on Sunday evening that fuel was due to enter the Gaza Strip on Monday, but that “nothing was set in stone.”
Israel regularly responds with airstrikes against Hamas positions in Gaza after incendiary balloon attacks. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has repeatedly stated that he will not allow such incidents to go unanswered.
“Israel is interested in calm and has no interest in harming the people of Gaza, but the violence… will be met with a strong response,” Bennett told the cabinet following such strikes in early July.
During the war, Israeli airstrikes and Palestinian rockets caused at least $ 290 million in damage in the Gaza Strip, international assessors reported in early July.
Israel and Hamas conducted indirect negotiations in Cairo in an attempt to strengthen the fragile ceasefire between the two sides. Israeli officials said they would condition the authorization of Gaza reconstruction and the easing of increased restrictions on securing a prisoner swap with Hamas that secures the return of Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed , and the bodies of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, who died in 2014 in action.