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Video: Israel launches retaliatory airstrikes on Hamas after terrorists send fire-starting balloons 1 month into ceasefire

Israeli F-16I "Sufa". (Maj. Ofer, Israeli Air Force/Released)
June 16, 2021

On Tuesday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed they had launched airstrikes against Hamas targets in Gaza in response to the terrorist group launching incendiary balloons across the border into Israel, which then started multiple fires.

On Tuesday, the IDF shared footage of one of its retaliatory strikes in response to the balloon attack, which comes one month after the two sides had agreed to a ceasefire.

“Arson balloons were launched from Gaza into Israel yesterday, causing multiple fires,” the IDF tweeted. “In response, IDF fighter jets struck Hamas military compounds last night, which were used as meeting sites for Hamas terror operatives. Hamas will bear the consequences for its actions.”

In a statement obtained by NBC News, the IDF said it is “prepared for any scenario, including a resumption of hostilities, in the face of continuing terror activities from the Gaza Strip,”

The concept of an incendiary balloon entails releasing a balloon with an incendiary or explosive payload in the hopes that prevailing winds will carry it into a target area and the balloon will either crash into something in the target area or drop its payload from above, setting fires.

On Wednesday, Times of Israel reporter Emanuel Fabian tweeted an image purporting to show the Hamas incendiary balloon activity.

Another Twitter account tweeted images of additional purported Hamas incendiary or improvised explosive device (IED) balloon activity.

“Got asked overnight what are “IED balloons” – here are three example images of some made used in the past to cause fires/damage. #Gaza #Israel,” Aurora Intel tweeted. “Another example, this is from yesterday of one or the incendiary balloons launched, rags/fabric are often used as the slow burner after the wick, however sometimes an unknown powder is used.”

The Associated Press reported Hamas began releasing the incendiary balloons in response to the Israeli march in the city of Jerusalem commemorating Israel’s capture of east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War. The Associated Press reported Palestinians see the march as a provocation and Hamas called on Palestinians to “resist” the parade.

Some of those marching Israeli’s reportedly shouted chants of “Death to Arabs!” and “May your village burn.” Those chants earned condemnation from Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who called the chants “a disgrace to the Israeli people” and said, “The fact that there are radicals for whom the Israeli flag represents hatred and racism is abominable and unforgivable.”

Hazem Qassem, a media spokesman for Hamas, said on Wednesday that the Israeli strikes against Gaza were a “failed attempt” to stop the Palestinian people’s solidarity, NBC News reported. Qassem said that Palestinians would continue to defend their rights.