Israel's Defense Forces (IDF) initiated a counterattack into Gaza following a balloon attack that sent incendiary devices floating into southern Israel. The counterstrike transpired on Tuesday evening in the United States and early Wednesday morning local time. It targeted Hamas military compounds, according to the IDF.
According to Israel, its military aircraft attacked Hamas armed compounds in Gaza in retaliation to the launching of incendiary balloons from the territory that resulted in fires in southern Israel fields. In a statement, the military said that it was "ready for all scenarios, including renewed fighting in the face of continued terrorist acts emanating from Gaza," reported Independent.
No immediate reports of casualties were recorded in the attack. The airstrikes arrived amid escalating tensions in the region following hundreds of Israeli ultranationalists who paraded on Tuesday in east Jerusalem in a display of force. A number of them were chanting "Death to Arabs," reported USA Today.
The balloons and airstrikes marked another major flare-up of tensions between Gaza and Israel. A ceasefire was declared on May 21, which ended 11 days of brutal fighting. This confrontation recorded 260 Palestinian fatalities and 13 Israeli fatalities.
Palestinian sources indicated Israeli air force targeted at least one site east of the southern Gaza city of Khan Younes. The Israeli army remarked in a statement that it targeted Hamas compounds. It also bombed one position in the Zeitoun neighborhood.
Dozens of Palestinians clashed with the IDF alongside the Gaza border on Tuesday. This is while tensions rose surrounding a flag march through the Old City of Jerusalem. During the clash, a Palestinian within a small group of instigators was gunned in the leg and was taken away from the scene in light condition.
The Israeli military stated on early Wednesday morning it had used warplanes to raid Gaza compounds.
An Israeli Defense Forces spokesman said that warplanes conducted raids on Hamas military compounds. He characterized these locations as "camps" and "meeting sites" of terrorists, as reported by NBC News. The targets were used by Gaza Brigades and Hamas' Khan Yunis for "terror activities," stated the IDF.
The airstrikes in Khan Younis were reported along with the occurrence of "material" damage. Another site south of Gaza City was reportedly targeted and there were no casualties that transpired from both incidents.
The strikes come mere days following Naftali Bennett's taking over as Israeli prime minister, ending the 12-year tenure of Benjamin Netanyahu, and weeks after an Israeli campaign recorded over 200 Palestinian fatalities, including over 60 children.
No Palestinian injuries have been reported so far, as reported by Hamas-affiliated media.
This marked one of the worst clashes between the Hamas militants and IDF since a small-scale war in 2014. The incendiary balloons, airstrikes, and march underscored the vulnerability of the tenuous truce.