IDF tanks retaliate after Gaza firebombs spark 23 blazes

IDF tanks hit Hamas positions as Qatari emissary mediates in bid to avoid escalation.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The IDF announced Sunday morning that it used tanks to attack Hamas military positions in the southern Gaza Strip in response to a weekend of balloon terrorism from Gaza.

“The attack was carried out in response to the continued launching of explosive and incendiary balloons from the Gaza Strip to Israeli territory,” the IDF spokesperson’s office said.

There were no reported injuries from either the tank fire or any of the 23 blazes that broke out across the Gaza Strip Saturday as a result of incendiary balloons released by terrorists in Gaza.

Talks between an Egyptian delegation and Hamas leaders appear to have reached a dead end. A senior political figure told the Kan public broadcaster that if a solution is not reached soon, there may be another round of fighting with Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza.

Israel has threatened the possibility of a military confrontation. Sources claim that Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar is not interested in escalation but wants to try and get some kind of economic achievement for Gaza before reining in the balloon attacks.

The Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds reported that Qatari envoy Mohammed Al-Emadi, who brought the latest round of Qatari cash donations to ease pressure on Hamas, is expected to meet with several senior security figures in Israel.

Al-Emadi held several meetings with the Hamas leadership in recent days in an attempt to restore calm and prevent an outbreak of fighting between the two sides. The report said Hamas demands relate to electricity, water, infrastructure and international projects.

In addition, Hamas is demanding that Israel provide the Gaza Strip with everything it needs to fight a new outbreak of coronavirus infections that has forced Hamas to impose a lockdown on the residents until at least the end of the month.

The newspaper report said Israel is insisting that all incendiary balloon attacks from Gaza stop before any Israeli steps are taken related to opening the border crossings and resuming fuel transfers for Gaza’s power plant. According to the report, Al-Amadi is expected to return to the Gaza Strip Sunday night or early Monday depending on the results of his meetings in Israel.

Senior Hamas official Hamad a-Rakeb said Saturday that this time Hamas “does not intend to back down until the siege on Gaza is lifted.” Faced with growing discontent from residents of Gaza who criticize their rule, Hamas leaders routinely accuse Israel of failing to hold up the Israeli side of previous agreements.