Israeli warplanes bombed the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip overnight after Palestinians fired a rocket into southern Israel, the army said.
The latest exchange came as Israel warned Hamas it was risking “war” by failing to stop fire balloons being launched across the border.
Egyptian security officials shuttled between the two sides in a bid to end the flare-up which has seen more than a week of rocket and fire balloon attacks from Gaza and nightly Israeli reprisals.
Israeli fighter jets strick parts of Gaza
“Earlier tonight, a rocket was fired and during the day, explosive and arson balloons were launched from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory,” said a military statement released shortly before midnight (2100 GMT).
In response, “fighter jets and (other) aircraft struck additional Hamas military targets in the Gaza Strip.
“During the strike, a military compound belonging to one of the special arrays of the Hamas terror organization was struck,” the English language statement added.
There were no reports from Gaza of casualties.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin issued a warning to Hamas during a visit to firefighters in the border area who said they were called out to 40 blazes caused by Palestinian arson balloons on Tuesday.
Israel's army launched new airstrikes Sunday against Hamas positions in Gaza and closed the fishing zone around the Palestinian enclave in response to rockets and firebombs sent into Israeli territory.
— The Voice of America (@VOANews) August 16, 2020
“Terrorism using incendiary kites and balloons is terrorism just like any other,” Rivlin told them, according to a statement from his office.
“Hamas should know that this is not a game. The time will come when they have to decide… If they want war, they will get war,” said Rivlin, whose post is largely ceremonial.
Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.
Despite a truce last year backed by Egypt, the United Nations and Qatar, Hamas and Israel clash sporadically, with Palestinian incendiary balloons or rocket or mortar fire drawing retaliatory Israeli strikes and sanctions against civilians in Gaza.
A Hamas source told AFP the Islamists had held talks with the Egyptian delegation in Gaza on Monday before it left the territory for meetings with the Israelis and the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority.
Attacks on Gaza continued for the seventh straight night as Israeli warplanes targeted Hamas observation posts in what the Israeli army said was a response to Palestinian fire balloon attacks across the border.
Tuesday’s air raids came as visiting Egyptian security officials strove to defuse the latest uptick in violence.
“Fighter jets and [other] aircraft struck underground infrastructures belonging to Hamas in the Gaza Strip,” an Israeli military statement said, linking the attack to “explosive and arson balloons launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel”.
Gaza security sources and witnesses said Tuesday’s raids hit Hamas lookout posts at Rafah in the south of the territory and Beit Lahia in the north.
Tensions have been rising for more than a week, with Israel accusing Hamas of firing rockets and launching bundles of balloons across the border fitted with incendiary or explosive devices.
Israel has closed the Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) goods crossing with the Gaza Strip, imposed a ban on fishing off the Gaza coast and staged nightly air raids for seven nights.
The Palestinian territory has been under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2007, with Israel citing security threats from Hamas for its land, air and naval blockade.
Egypt tries to resolve tensions between Israel and Hamas
The Egyptian delegation was expected to return to Gaza after those talks were concluded, the source added.
In response to the persistent balloon attacks, Israel has banned fishing off Gaza’s coast and closed the Kerem Shalom goods crossing, cutting off deliveries of fuel to the territory’s sole power plant.
The Iron Dome anti-missile system fires interception missiles as rockets are launched from Gaza towards Israel, as seen from Ashkelon, Israel. More top photos of the day: https://t.co/7D5jstZXeV 📷 Amir Cohen pic.twitter.com/oXMpvyTcqx
— Reuters Pictures (@reuterspictures) August 17, 2020
Power had been in short supply even before the shutdown, with consumers having access to mains electricity for only around eight hours a day.
A Hamas source told AFP news agency that the group held talks with the Egyptian delegation in Gaza on Monday before the delegation left for meetings with the Israelis and the occupied West Bank-based Palestinian Authority.
It was expected to return to Gaza after those talks, the source added.
“The occupation continued its aggression and carried out airstrikes on Gaza after midnight,” the Hamas source said, adding that the attacks were seen as a “negative response” to the truce feelers.
There were no casualties in the raids, he added.
Despite a truce last year – backed by Egypt, Qatar and the UN – tensions between Hamas and Israel rise sporadically.
That will now be cut to just four hours a day using power supplied from the Israeli grid.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk