The IDF conducted airstrikes on Hamas terror sites in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday night in response to the launching of a rocket into southern Israel early on Tuesday evening as well as the continuous launching of incendiary and explosive balloons from Gaza for the past two weeks.
The launching of the rocket caused rocket alert sirens to blare in Ashkelon and Zikim, sending thousands of residents into bomb shelters.
The rocket fell into an open area and fortunately, there were no reports of serious injuries or damage. Two young girls were slightly injured when running toward protective rooms and were evacuated to the hospital for treatment.
A rocket & explosive balloons were launched from Gaza into Israel today. In response, we struck Hamas terror targets in Gaza, including a military compound belonging to one of Hamas' special arrays.— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) August 18, 2020
Hamas will bear the consequences for terror activity against Israeli civilians.
Incendiary balloons continued to land in southern Israel on Wednesday morning from the Gaza Strip, with balloons found in Ofakim, and other Gaza border communities and fires reported near Sderot and in the Be’eri forest.
חבלן משטרת ישראל מנטרל בלון נפץ שאותר היום בחווה חקלאית בתחום המועצה האזורית שדות נגב pic.twitter.com/wgfvkHMqu6— משטרת ישראל (@IL_police) August 18, 2020
Over 40 fires raged on Tuesday in southern Israel as a result of arson balloons launched from Gaza. Fortunately, no direct injuries or damage to properties were reported.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held a discussion via telephone with local council heads in Gaza border communities on Tuesday.
“We have adopted a policy that fires are like rockets,” Netanyahu said. “We have been active for the past ten days straight in shelling the infrastructures of Hamas and the terrorist organizations. We have also imposed various sanctions in areas that are important to Hamas.”
“I regret that we are also preparing, to the extent necessary, for the possibility of a round or rounds. I hope that we will not get there. We are not willing to accept the use of these means that, by the way, have no justification.”
“Hamas will be making a very great mistake if it continues like this. Even now it is receiving an indication of where this will lead. It will certainly remember where it has led and I hope that Islamic Jihad also remembers where it has led.
“We have not spared any measure including – in the event of the development of a campaign – targeted counter-measures, and there is no such restriction today either.
“I very much appreciate your resilience and the fact that you understand that we are not taking this lightly. I am not taking it lightly, neither am I familiar with anyone in our leadership who takes it lightly, and we will act with full force against it,” Netanyahu concluded.
A delegation of Egyptian officials met with Hamas in Gaza on Monday in an attempt to mediate the flaring tensions on the border. Hamas submitted a list of demands which Israel refused to fulfill and the delegation left the Strip without reaching any agreements.
Hamas’s demands included increasing work permits for Gazans allowed into Israel to 100,000, reopening the Kerem Shalom crossing, extending the Gaza fishing zone to 20 nautical miles, expediting several energy infrastructure and industrial projects and allowing import of dual-use materials into the Strip.