Israel Strikes Gaza After Firebombs Hurled Over Border Fence, Army Says

Palestinian reports say blasts heard east of Gaza City

File photo: An Israeli soldier inspects incendiary balloons launched from the Gaza Strip in southern Israel, October 19, 2018.
Eliyahu Hershkovitz

The Israeli military said Tuesday that it struck two terror cells in the Gaza Strip that had thrown firebombs from the northern part of the coastal enclave into Israel, days after the Israel Defense Forces attacked some 100 targets in Gaza in response to two rockets that had been fired at central Israel.

Palestinian reports said blasts were heard east of Gaza City.

The Eshkol Regional Council, in southern Israel, said earlier on Tuesday a suspected balloon had been identified in a forest near the Gaza border. However, security officials concluded that it posed no danger, as no explosives were attached to it.

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In February, the first incendiary balloon since November was launched from the Gaza Strip, a few days after Hamas re-approved the tactic due to stalled talks with Israel. It caused a small fire in the Kissufim Forest near the border, which was put out quickly.

The Israeli military struck Hamas and Islamic Jihad positions in early March after more incendiary balloons were launched into Israel. 

The Israeli army attacked in Gaza Thursday overnight in response to two rockets fired at Tel Aviv from the Strip the evening before, a first since the 2014 war. According to a preliminary army assessment, the rockets were fired at Tel Aviv by mistake during maintenance work.

The flare-up followed weeks of tensions, with the most recent exchange until then took place Saturday night when a projectile was launched at Israel. In response, the Israeli army carried out several airstrikes in the Strip, targeting several Hamas posts.