Gazans Launch Incendiary Balloons into Israel After Strikes

GAZA CITY, Gaza (AP) -
Israeli troops patrol the streets and search houses during an army operation following a stone throwing attack on an Israeli driver near the Allon Moreh Jewish community, near Shechem, Monday. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Hamas-backed Palestinians on Tuesday in the Gaza Strip launched a new wave of incendiary balloons into Israel, further raising tensions after a night of Israeli airstrikes on the seaside territory.

Incendiary balloons have been fired into southern Israel several times in recent weeks, setting fires on the other side of the border. On Saturday, Palestinians held a violent demonstration along the Israeli border fence.

During the demonstration, a terrorist next to the fence pulled out a pistol and shot an Israeli sniper in the head at point blank range. The Israeli remains in critical condition. Some two-dozen Palestinians were also hit by Israeli fire.

Early on Tuesday, Israeli warplanes carried out a series of airstrikes on Hamas targets in response to incendiary balloons. The Israeli military said that Hamas fired machine guns into Israel, drawing an additional airstrike. No casualties were reported on either side.

But by the afternoon, the Gazans were launching the balloons again. “Our message is clear and explicit. This siege must be broken,” said one of them, who identified himself as Abu Omar. “We will not be intimidated by any threats.”