The Israeli military said its fighter jets struck targets in Gaza, including Khan Yunis, overnight on June 16, in what it described as retaliation for “arson balloons” it said were launched by Hamas. The balloons caused fires in Israel on June 15.
These were the first strikes on Palestinian territories since a May ceasefire ended an 11-day period of hostilities between Israel and Hamas that left at least 250 dead in Gaza, according to health officials. Israeli sources said at least 12 Israelis died by rockets fired by Hamas militants during the May conflict.
The fresh strikes were also the first attacks in the Palestinian enclave under a new Israeli government, led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
In a statement issued overnight, the Israel Defense Forces said it was “prepared for all scenarios, including the resumption of hostilities.”
On Tuesday, thousands of Israelis took part in a right-wing nationalist “flag day” march through parts of East Jerusalem, drawing Palestinian protesters. At least 17 Palestinians were arrested, according to Israeli police. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, at least 33 Palestinian protesters were injured in clashes.
Video filmed by Gaza-based journalist Hani Hammad Alshaer shows an explosion from a strike in the early morning hours on Wednesday. Credit: Hani Hammad Alshaer via Storyful