Israel retaliates against Hamas arson balloons and machine gun fire

Among the targets destroyed were two terror tunnel shafts and a weapons-production site.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Israeli air force retaliated overnight Monday against Hamas after arson balloons launched from the Gaza Strip set off at least nine fires within Israel.

Hamas responded with heavy machine gun fire that was directed “toward Israeli territory,” according to the IDF.

Among the targets successfully destroyed during the overnight strike were a terror tunnel shaft in Jabaliya, a weapons-production site in Khan Younis and an underground rocket-launching platform that was situated in the heart of a civilian neighborhood in Gaza City, right next to a school.

Hamas responded by firing a machine gun toward the jets that carried out the strikes, according to Walla News.

“The attack was carried out in response to the launching of incendiary balloons towards Israeli territory … which proved yet again that the Hamas terror organization continues to lead the Gaza Strip in a downward spiral toward a policy of terror,” a statement released by the IDF’s Spokesperson’s Unit read.

Israel holds Hamas responsible for everything that takes place in the Gaza Strip, it added, and “the IDF will continue to respond aggressively to any attempted terror attacks.”

This was the second time the IDF carried out attacks against Hamas in recent days, as well the second time Hamas used machine gun fire against Israel. After the IDF struck Gaza in response to the riots on the border in which Border Police sniper St.-Sgt. Barel Shmueli was critically wounded, Hamas targeted the city of Sderot. Residents reported damage to property from machine gun fire, which can easily reach the town from the edge of the coastal enclave.

“This is not something we’ve seen in the past,” a security source said Tuesday, according to 0404. “Machine gun fire aimed with the purpose of hitting [us] requires new thinking.”

The arson balloons launched from Gaza all within an hour and a half on Monday caused three bigger fires and 10 smaller ones in forests close to the border, most of them in the Eshkol region. All the fires were brought under control quickly, according to the Israel Fire and Rescue Service.

The fact that little damage was caused was no solace to Eshkol Regional Council head Gadi Yarkoni, who demanded that the government “send an immediate message to these terror groups.”

Their “audacity to reignite the balloon terror attacks and ignite our forests must be stopped,” he said. “If not stopped today, we will find ourselves extinguishing fires for another summer.”

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“What starts with acceptance of incendiary balloons, ends with rocket attacks and firing towards IDF soldiers,” he added.