WORLD Israel strikes Gaza in response to incendiary balloons

WORLD

Israel strikes Gaza in response to incendiary balloons

AFP

09:01, June 16, 2021

Explosions light-up the night sky at Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, as Israeli forces shell the Palestinian enclave, early on June 16, 2021. (Photo: AFP)

The Israeli air force launched air strikes on the Gaza Strip early Wednesday after militants in the Palestinian territory sent incendiary balloons into southern Israel, security sources and witnesses said.

The airstrikes and balloons marked the first major flare-up between Israel and Gaza since a ceasefire on May 21 ended 11 days of heavy fighting that killed 260 Palestinians, according to Gaza authorities, and 13 people in Israel, the police and army there said.

According to Palestinian sources, Israel's air force targeted at least one site east of the southern Gaza city of Khan Younes.

The Israeli Defence Force said that in response to the "arson balloons", its "fighter jets struck military compounds belonging to the Hamas terror organisation."

It added that "facilities and meeting sites for terror operatives" in Khan Younes were targeted.

Around 1,000 apartments, offices and shops were destroyed in the latest round of fighting in May in Gaza, an impoverished enclave of two million controlled by the Hamas Islamist group.

Wednesday's strikes were Israel's first against Gaza since a new coalition government took over on Sunday night, ousting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after 12 years in power.

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