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Israel Strikes Gaza Over Fire Balloons

Israel Strikes Gaza Over Fire Balloons

Friday, 18 June, 2021 - 03:15
Smoke and flames are seen after an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza Strip, June 17, 2021. Reuters

Israeli jets launched airstrikes in Gaza overnight Thursday to Friday after militants in the Palestinian territory again set off incendiary balloons into southern Israel, the army and AFP journalists said.

The fire balloons and airstrikes are the latest violence heaping pressure on a fragile ceasefire between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers that came into place on May 21, ending 11 days of heavy fighting.

"Over the past day, arson balloons were launched from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory," Israel's military said in a statement.

"In response... fighter jets struck military compounds and a rocket launch site belonging to the Hamas terror organization."

AFP journalists in the Palestinian enclave also reported hearing explosions, which the army said hit sites in Gaza City and in Khan Yunis, in the south of Gaza, home to around two million people.

Soon after the strikes, Hamas militants opened fire with heavy machines guns towards Israel, as Israeli warning air raid sirens rang out.

Palestinian militants in Gaza launched balloons for a third day running on Thursday, according to Israeli firefighters battling the blazes sparked by the devices.

The balloons are basic devices intended to set fire to farmland and bush surrounding Gaza.

After the first wave of fire balloons sparked blazes on Tuesday, Israel's military launched a retaliatory wave of strikes early Wednesday.

Then, as the balloons continued, the air force launched a second round of strikes overnight Thursday to Friday.

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