(GAZA STRIP) JUST IN: Israel launches airstrikes on Hamas after balloon attack, IDF says launched a counterattack into Gaza after a balloon attack sent incendiary devices floating into southern Israel #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – June.16: The counterstrike, which happened Tuesday evening in the U.S. and early Wednesday morning local time, targeted Hamas military compounds, according to the IDF.

Israel launches airstrikes on Hamas after balloon attack, IDF Says but the targets were used by Hamas’ Khan Yunis and Gaza Brigades for “terror activities,” according to the IDF: Authorities on both sides said there were no injuries, the Times of Israelreported.

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“The Hamas terror organization is responsible for all events transpiring in the Gaza Strip, and will bear the consequences for its actions,” the military said in a statement. “The IDF is prepared for any scenario, including a resumption of hostilities, in the face of continuing terror activities from the Gaza Strip.”

The violence comes just three weeks after a cease-fire halted 11 days of fighting that marked the worst clashes between the IDF and Hamas militants since a small-scale war in 2014.

Israel’s fragile coalition government gets first test, launches airstrikes on Hamas: The violence comes just three weeks after a cease-fire halted 11 days of fighting

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Fox News Flash top headlines for June 15

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett‘s coalition government, just three days into its term, responded to an incendiary balloon attack from Hamas by launching airstrikes into the Gaza Strip.

Bennett, the right-wing leader who was once former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief of staff, has said that he would approachballoon attacks with the same seriousness as if they were rockets.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Israeli Defense Forces said it targeted Hamas infrastructure. About 20 fires broke out in southern Israel as a result of the balloon attack, the report said.

The New York Times, citing Palestinian news, reported that one of the Israeli strikes caused damage to at least one property, but there have been no confirmation of any casualties. 

The paper reported that Israel had been on edge after the new government approved a “far-right Jewish march to pass through Palestinian areas of Jerusalem on Tuesday night.”

Hundreds of Israeli ultranationalists, some chanting “Death to Arabs,” paraded in east Jerusalem in a show of force that threatened to spark renewed violence.

The violence comes just three weeks after a cease-fire halted 11 days of fighting that marked the worst clashes between the IDF and Hamas militants since a small-scale war in 2014.

The Post reported that Hamas called for a “Day of Rage” to counter the march. Palestinians consider the march, meant to celebrate Israel’s capture of east Jerusalem in 1967, to be a provocation. Hamas called on Palestinians to “resist” the parade, a version of which helped ignite last month’s 11-day Gaza war.

Yair Lapid,  the alternate prime minister who will serve as foreign minister for the first two years of the government’s term, said those shouting racist slogans were “a disgrace to the Israeli people.”

“The fact that there are radicals for whom the Israeli flag represents hatred and racism is abominable and unforgivable,” he said.

Israel says it carried out air strikes in Gaza overnight after Palestinians launched incendiary balloons from the territory, in the first major flare-up since an 11-day conflict last month.

The Israeli military said it targeted compounds belonging to Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza.

The incendiary balloons sparked 20 fires in southern Israel on Tuesday.

Hamas said they were a response to a march by Israeli nationalists in occupied East Jerusalem.

There were no casualties on either side and calm had been restored by Wednesday morning.

What do we know about the strikes?

In a statement, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said its fighter jets had hit military compounds operated by Hamas in Khan Younis and Gaza City.

It said “terrorist activity” took place in the compounds, and that the IDF was “prepared for all scenarios, including the resumption of hostilities, in the face of continued terror acts from the Gaza Strip”.

A Hamas spokesman said on Twitter that Palestinians would continue to pursue their “brave resistance and defend their rights and sacred sites” in Jerusalem.The IDF said the strikes were carried out in response to the “arson balloons launched from Gaza into Israel” on Tuesday.In recent years, militants have frequently sent balloons and kites carrying containers of burning fuel and explosive devices over the Gaza border. The devices have caused hundreds of fires in Israel, burning thousands of hectares of forest and farmland.

Incendiary balloons are commonly used by militants (image from 15 June)The air strikes were the first carried out under Israel’s new government, which took office on Sunday, ending Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12 years in power. Naftali Bennett, the new prime minister, is a right-wing nationalist who heads a coalition of eight parties spanning the entire spectrum of Israeli politics.

A reminder of a fragile ceasefire by Rushdi Abu Alouf, BBC News, Gaza CityThe recent air raids lasted for only 10 minutes, but they were enough to remind the city’s residents, who are trying to recover from the aftermath of the recent fighting, that the ceasefire is fragile. It is not only the sounds of explosions that remind people of the war here. You only have to drive your car or walk the streets to witness the scale of destruction that has befallen the city. Tons of rubble still block the main roads in the heart of Gaza. A local street vendor, Abu Muhammad, sells nuts on a small cart in the Rimal neighbourhood, which was subjected to the largest strikes in the previous round of violence. He told me: “We can no longer tolerate more wars, the coronavirus pandemic stopped our work for many months, and the last war caused a great loss, I could no longer feed my six children.” A neighbour, who lives near a Hamas military site that was hit in the latest strikes, told me by phone it was scary watching new plumes of smoke rising.What happened at the Jerusalem march?The Jerusalem Day flag march is an annual event that marks Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem – home to the Old City and its holy sites – in the 1967 Middle East War. Palestinians see it as a provocation.At Tuesday’s event, hundreds of mostly young, nationalist Israelis danced, sang and waved Israeli flags in front of the Old City’s Damascus Gate, the main entrance to the Muslim Quarter. They later entered through another gate to reach the Western Wall, one of Judaism’s holiest sites.EPAThe marchers agreed not to enter the Old City through the Damascus GateIsrael Foreign Minister Yair Lapid criticised a group of marchers that were filmed chanting racist slogans.”The fact that there are extremists for whom the Israeli flag represents hate and racism is abominable and intolerable,” said Mr Lapid. “It is incomprehensible how one can hold an Israeli flag in one’s hand and shout ‘Death to Arabs’ at the same time.”More than 30 Palestinian protesters were injured and 17 people arrested as Israeli police cleared areas of East Jerusalem ahead of the march, firing stun grenades and rubber bullets.Originally, the flag march was supposed to take place on 10 May. But it was interrupted by Hamas militants in Gaza firing rockets towards the holy city, which led to the 11-day conflict.ReutersPalestinians protested against the march, which they said was a provocationAs soon as a ceasefire took hold, the organisers asked for the march to be rescheduled. It was due to take place last Thursday, but it was cancelled by the organisers after Israeli police rejected the proposed route, citing security concerns.An amended route that avoided passing through the Damascus Gate was later approved by the new Israeli government, though the leader of the Arab Islamist Raam party in the coalition said it should have been called off.The Palestinian Authority’s prime minister warned that there could be “dangerous repercussions”.Why was there a conflict in Gaza last month?The conflict began after weeks of spiralling Israeli-Palestinian tension in East Jerusalem which culminated in clashes at a holy site revered by both Muslims and Jews.Hamas began firing rockets into Israel after warning it to withdraw from the site, triggering retaliatory air strikes from Israel on Gaza targets.Two children from Gaza City and Israel describe their experience of the Israel-Gaza conflictAt least 256 people were killed in Gaza, according to the UN, and 13 people were killed in Israel before an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire took effect on 21 May.The UN said at least 128 of those killed in Gaza were civilians. Israel’s military said 200 were militants; Hamas’s leader in Gaza put the number of fighters killed at 80.More than 16,000 homes in Gaza were destroyed or damaged in the conflict, along with 58 schools and training centres, nine hospitals, 19 clinics and vital infrastructure, according to the UN.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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