IDF Targets, Injured Balloon Terrorists After Ceasefire

YERUSHALAYIM -
A field burnt by an incendiary kite near Sderot on Sunday. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

The IDF on Sunday afternoon took aim at two groups of Gaza terrorists who were set to release balloons with flammable material attached at Israeli targets. The two incidents occurred about an hour apart early Sunday afternoon. Hamas reported that in both incidents, terrorists were injured. The IDF said in a statement that it “takes very seriously the launching of terror kites and balloons at Israel, and will continue to act with force against the perpetrators of these attacks.”

Media commentators on Reshet Bet said it appeared that “something had changed” in the IDF’s handling of the balloon and kite terror on Sunday. “For months the IDF has been firing around, or near, or next to the terrorists who launch these kites and balloons. On Sunday they actually fired at the terrorists,” the commentators said.

The reason for that change was attributed to the ceasefire that is supposed to be in place, after a Shabbos in which Hamas fired more than 200 rockets at southern Israel. Numerous Israeli political officials criticized Israel’s acceptance of the truce – Education Minister Naftali Bennett, for example, called it a “big mistake” – and in response, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that the ceasefire also included the balloon and kite attacks, saying that “some people claimed that we agreed to a ceasefire that does not deal with the balloon terror, but that is not true.”

The ceasefire was brokered overnight Motzoei Shabbos, after Gaza terrorists fired over 200 rockets at Israel over Shabbos. Fifty of the rockets were shot down by the Iron Dome system. Residents of the south spent much of Shabbos and Motzoei Shabbos in bomb shelters, as Red Alert warnings sounded throughout the night and day – 165 altogether. Israeli planes attacked Hamas positions in the interior of Gaza throughout the day Shabbos. With all the rockets, there were just four light injuries, when four members of a family in Sderot were lightly wounded by shrapnel from a rocket that exploded near their home.

At a press conference Sunday, a senior Israeli Air Force official said that Israel since Friday had exercised more force in a 24-hour period that anytime since Operation Protective Edge in 2014. “We devastated Hamas infrastructure, but what we did over the weekend was not with all our power,” the official said, adding that “If we see that things are not quiet we will do what is needed to bring quiet.”