Israel Defense Forces jets struck Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Thursday evening in response to the launch of incendiary balloons across the border into Israel.
According to the IDF, fighter planes struck military compounds and a rocket launch site belonging to Hamas.
Media reports said that the terror group responded to the attacks by saying, “We will not allow the enemy to impose a new equation.” The reference is to targeted air strikes as a response to the arson balloons.
The balloons ignited at least eight fires on Thursday, and more than two dozen earlier in the week.
During the evening, air raid sirens sounded near the Gaza border but later the IDF said later the sirens had likely been triggered by Palestinian machine gunfire and not rockets.
The renewed fighting comes just a month after Israel and Hamas fought an 11-day war.
IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi, held a security briefing and told officers “to increase the IDF's readiness and preparedness for a variety of scenarios including a resumption of hostilities, in the face of continuing terror activities from the Gaza Strip.”
The IDF said it would continue to “strike military capabilities and infrastructure belonging to the terror organization and holds the Hamas as responsible for all events transpiring in the Gaza Strip.”
Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhum charged that the Israeli strikes were merely “an attempt by the new government to raise the morale of its soldiers and commanders, after it collapsed” the Times of Israel reported.
In another development, Israel and the Palestinian Authority agreed on Friday to an exchange deal for the coronavirus vaccines.
According to the deal, Israel will transfer to the Palestinian Authority between one million and 1.4 million does of the Pzifer coronavirus vaccine that are in stock in Israel and will expire soon, a joint statement from the Prime Minister's office, the Health Ministry and Defense Ministry said.
In exchange for the vaccines transferred to the PA, Israel will receive the same quantity of new vaccine doses from Pfizer during September and October 2021, in place fo a consignment earmarked for the PA.
"The arrangement was approved in light of the fact that Israel has a sufficient quantity of vaccines to meet all of its current needs," the statement said.
Meanwhile Kohavi is set to leave for an official visit to the US on Sunday as a guest of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US Armed Forces, Gen. Mark A. Milley.
This is Kohavi’s first visit to the US in his present position. It was postponed earlier due to the security situation in Israel.
During his visit, Kohavi will meet with senior Defense Department and US Armed Forces officials. They’ll discuss “common security challenges, including issues related to the Iranian nuclear threat, Iranian regional entrenchment in the Middle East, Hezbollah's force build-up efforts, consequences of the PGM [precision-guided munition] threat, and joint force design,” a statement said.
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