Israel carried out an airstrike on the Gaza Strip in the night from Tuesday to Wednesday, Reuters news agency reported. It was the first attack on Gaza since the ceasefire concluded last month after a series of back-and-forth attacks. Witnesses say they heard explosions to international news agencies, but nothing is known about damage and possible victims.
According to the Israeli army, the airstrike targeted Hamas-armed compounds and retaliated for “fire balloons” released from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday. The fire balloons started fires in Israeli communities on the coast near Gaza. In a statement, the army said it is “ready for all scenarios, including new fighting due to the ongoing terrorist actions from Gaza.”
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The incendiary balloons were released ahead of the controversial ‘flag march’ of nationalist Israelis in Jerusalem. Palestinian organizations saw the march as a provocation and had called for a “day of anger.” A confrontation between the police and Palestinian demonstrators at that march left 27 injured, according to Palestinian aid workers.
Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians had been running high in recent days, after a relatively quiet truce since the May 20 ceasefire. Israel’s 11-day attacks on the Gaza Strip in May left 242 dead, according to the UN. The thousands of rockets that Hamas fired from Gaza killed 12 Israelis.
On Sunday, a new government took office in Israel led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, made up of a wondrous mix of left-wing and right-wing parties as well as Arab Israelis. The escalating conflict with Hamas immediately puts pressure on that coalition.