Israel Uses F-16’s To Punish Gaza for Fire Balloons

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Smoke rises after an Israeli airstriked in Gaza City. (File Photo: AFP)

Gaza- Israeli aircraft struck posts belonging to the Lebanese group Hezbollah early on Wednesday after shots were fired from Lebanon towards its troops, Israel’s military said.

Later in the day, Israeli warplanes also bombed Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in response to Palestinians in the enclave launching incendiary balloons towards Israel, according to the military.

No Israeli troops were wounded in the firing from Lebanon, the military said. Soldiers deployed illumination flares, smoke shells and live fire after the shots from the Lebanese side of the frontier, it said.

“In response, overnight, IDF attack helicopters and aircraft struck observation posts belonging to the Hezbollah terror organisation in the border area,” the military said in a statement, referring to the Israel Defense Forces.

There was no immediate comment from Hezbollah.

Tension has been running high on the border. Last month, Israel said Hezbollah carried out an infiltration attempt, which the Iran-backed group denied.

The Israeli military said it lifted a curfew it had imposed overnight.

Almost nightly strikes on Hamas facilities

There were no reports of casualties in the strikes that Israel’s military said targeted underground infrastructure belonging to Hamas, the Islamist group that rules Gaza.

Hamas has been trying to pressure Israel to ease restrictions on Gaza and allow more investment, in part by letting Palestinians launch helium balloons carrying incendiary material that have torched tracts of southern Israeli farmland in recent weeks.

Israel has struck Hamas facilities almost nightly for the past two weeks, saying it would not tolerate the balloons.

Anticipating Israeli attacks after balloon or rocket launchings, Hamas routinely evacuates personnel from its sites.

With tension high, Israel has closed its only commercial crossing with Gaza, banned sea access and halted fuel imports into the coastal strip, leading to its only power plant shutting down last week.

Health officials have voiced concern that the power plant shut down could aggravate a novel coronavirus outbreak in Gaza, which is home to two million Palestinians.

Mediators from the United Nations, Egypt and Qatar have been working to restore calm.

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