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The Israeli military said on Wednesday it carried out overnight strikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip after incendiary “balloons” were launched across the border from the Palestinian enclave.
The army said the strikes were "retaliation" for the launching of multiple balloons from the Hamas-run enclave in recent days.
Jets, attack helicopters and tanks struck a number of Hamas targets including "underground infrastructure and observation posts," a statement said.
Fire services in southern Israel said the balloons caused 60 fires on Tuesday alone but reported no casualties.
Explosives tied to balloons and kites first emerged as a weapon in Gaza during intense protests in 2018, when the makeshift devices drifted across the border daily, causing thousands of fires in Israeli farms and communities.
Israel has closed its Kerem Shalom goods crossing with the Gaza Strip in response to the recent balloon launches.
The Palestinian territory has been under an Israeli blockade since 2007.
Hamas and Israel have fought three wars since 2008.
Despite a truce last year, backed by the UN, Egypt and Qatar, the two sides clash sporadically with rockets, mortar fire or incendiary balloons.
Palestinian analysts say cross-border fire from Gaza is often used as a bargaining tool to secure Israel's green light for the entry of Qatari financial aid into the territory.Agence France-Presse
An early-morning military statement said there had been airborne explosive and incendiary attacks into southern Israel on Saturday. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
"Over 123,538 people, have been internally displaced in Gaza, mostly due to fear, protection concerns and the destruction of their homes," said the UN's humanitarian agency, OCHA, with more than 73,000 sheltering in schools.
The Israeli army said the strikes were a response to explosive balloons launched by Hamas-affiliated group over the border, and attempts by Palestinian protesters to throw explosives at the Israel-Gaza perimeters fence and soldiers stationed along it.
The United States vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on Tuesday that called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, drawing stern criticism from allies as President Joe Biden faces mounting pressure to temper support for Israel.
Two friends in western France have built a 16-metre high replica of the Eiffel Tower from recycled wood, which they hope to display along the path of the Summer 2024 Olympic torch relay and on Olympic sites.
The vote in the 15-member Security Council was 13-1 with the United Kingdom abstaining. The United States circulated a rival UNSC resolution that would support a temporary cease-fire in Gaza linked to the release of all hostages, and call for the lifting of all restrictions on the delivery of humanitarian aid.