Israel launches airstrikes on Gaza for second time since ceasefire
Israeli jets launched air strikes on 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 air strikes 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 organisation.”
AFP journalists in the Palestinian enclave also reported hearing explosions, which the army said hit sites in both Gaza City and in Khan Yunis, in the south of Gaza, home to some two million people.
Soon after the strikes, Hamas militants opened fire with heavy machines guns towards the Jewish state, 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.
Army ordered to increase ‘readiness’
After the first wave of fire bombs 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.
This week’s air strikes on Gaza were the first under Israel’s new government headed by Naftali Bennett, whose ideologically disparate coalition on Sunday ousted long-serving prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel army chief Aviv Kohavi late Thursday issued orders to “increase the IDF’s (Israeli Defense Forces’) readiness and preparedness for a variety of scenarios including a resumption of hostilities,” the army statement read…..read more