Israel targets Hamas sites after balloons from Gaza ignite fires

Israeli aircraft bombed Hamas sites in the Gaza Strip in response to incendiary balloons launched from the Palestinian enclave, Israel’s military said.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage from the strikes on Saturday that targeted what the military said was a rocket launching site and a compound belonging to Hamas, the Islamist group that rules Gaza.

Hamas had no immediate comment.

Since a ceasefire in May ended 11 dias of Israel-Hamas fighting, Palestinians in Gaza have sporadically launched balloons laden with incendiary material across the border, causing fires that have burned fields in Israel.

Palestinians say the balloons aim to pressure Israel to ease restrictions on the coastal enclave that were tightened during the May fighting.

Balloon launches had mostly ebbed after Israel eased some restrictions on Gaza.

But on Friday, balloons were again launched from Gaza, causing at least four brush fires in areas near the Israel-Gaza frontier.

The Israeli military said its air strikes were in “response to continual launches of incendiary balloons from Gaza into Israel throughout the day”.

The blazes along the Gaza frontier broke out on Friday as Israel separately traded fire over its northern border with Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah, in a third day of cross-border salvoes amid wider regional tensions with Iran.

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