At least thirteen rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip at southern Israel overnight Tuesday, after the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) struck the vehicle of a Hamas operative that was involved in launching flammable kites across the border.
Alarms sounded in towns and small communities throughout the Eshkol, Sha’ar Hanegev, Sdot Negev and Hof Ashkelon regions, from approximately 1:45 a.m. to 4 a.m., sending thousands of Israeli running into bomb shelters.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum in Gaza said Israel’s vehicle attack had “merited a quick response”, leading to increased rocket fire, and that armed factions were ready to “defend our people and protect their interests”. This was the third such exchange between Israel and Hamas in recent weeks. The IDF said “the Hamas terror organisation will bear the cost of terror and instability”.
An IDF spokesperson confirmed that at least three of the rockets were shot down by the Iron Dome missile shield, and there were no reports of casualties.
About 20 fires in Israeli territory were started last week by flammable balloons and kites sent from the Gaza Strip. The blazes were sparked during the afternoon and early evening in the Eshkol, Sdot Negev, and Sha’ar Hanegev regions, submerging communities in smoke, burning nature reserves, and killing many animals in what has lately become a daily routine.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that Israel may be forced to launch a “large-scale military operation” in the Gaza Strip in response to the continued attacks.
In recent weeks, the military has adopted a policy of targeting Hamas positions in response to repeated incendiary kite and balloon attacks from Gaza in an effort to force the group, which rules the coastal strip.