Israeli airstrikes hit Hamas targets in Gaza in response to rockets and incendiary balloons


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Two rockets fired from Gaza that were aimed at the southern Israeli city of Sderot were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system Sunday, and Israel’s Air Force responded with airstrikes on Hamas military targets in Gaza.

The targets included a military compound used to store rocket ammunition, in Israel’s second overnight attack on Gaza amid an escalation of tensions this week. Earlier on Saturday night, Israel bombed Hamas targets in Gaza in retaliation for incendiary balloons sent over the border that ignited at least 19 fires, some that burned agricultural fields.

It was the fifth night in a row that the Israeli military struck Hamas targets in Gaza in response to the balloons after at least 100 fires were sparked in southern Israel over the last week. Hamas said two Palestinian children were injured in the airstrikes on Friday night.

Also on Saturday night, about 800 Palestinian protesters massed on the Gaza border, some throwing explosives at Israeli soldiers. Some of the soldiers responded with live gunfire.

Fallout from an Iron Dome interceptor rocket damaged a home in Sderot and lightly injured a 58-year-old man in the late Saturday night attack.

“Every explosive balloon or rocket landing in Israel, and violating its sovereignty, holds one return address: Hamas,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Sunday after meeting with the head of Israel’s army. “By launching rockets and explosive balloons, the heads of Hamas are undermining the interests of the residents of Gaza and are impairing their ability to live in dignity and security. The IDF will respond forcefully to any violation of sovereignty until complete quiet is restored in the south. If Sderot isn’t quiet, Gaza won’t be either.”

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