The IDF appeared to be stepping up its response to the arson attacks from Gaza on Thursday afternoon, with an airstrike on Hamas terrorists launching incendiary balloons at southern Israel.
In the strike, one Hamas member was killed and three others wounded, according to Palestinian sources, marking the first reported fatality among Palestinians involved in the arson attacks. Until now, Israel has been firing near them. But it wasn’t immediately clear if this was a shift in military policy.
The IDF confirmed the airstrike, and said in a statement that it “will continue to act with greater strength against terror activities that are being led by the Hamas terror movement and it views these activities seriously.”
Shortly after that incident, Gazan terrorists fired mortar shells at Israeli soldiers across the border. B’chasdei Shamayim, no injuries were reported.
Air raid sirens were sounded throughout the Eshkol region, east of Gaza, and thousands of residents rushed to bomb shelters.
The projectile landed in an open field near a cowshed, a local government spokesperson said. “It landed outside of the community. There was no damage to the cowshed.”
The IDF retaliated with tank fire against a nearby Hamas observation post, east of the city of Rafah, the army said.
Meanwhile, 14 fires broke out in the Gaza periphery, caused by incendiary balloons and kites on Thursday.
Defense officials were quoted by Ynet as saying, “the next 48 hours will be crucial to curbing the phenomenon after which we know where this is headed.”
& Asked whether war was imminent, one official said that “decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis. (Israel’s) security policy cannot be based on media or political pressure, otherwise it will be the end,” he said.