16 June 2021 by Safiya Wada
Israel says it has carried out air strikes against Hamas militant targets in Gaza, in retaliation for incendiary balloons launched from the territory.
Explosions were heard in Gaza City in the early hours of Wednesday.
Several balloons were sent from Gaza into Israel earlier on Tuesday causing multiple fires, according to the Israeli fire service.
It is the first major flare-up since 11 days of fighting between the two sides ended in a ceasefire on 21 May.
It followed a march by Jewish nationalists in occupied East Jerusalem on Tuesday, which had drawn threats from Hamas, the militant group that runs Gaza.
A Hamas spokesman said in a statement on Twitter that Palestinians would continue to pursue their “brave resistance and defend their rights and sacred sites” in Jerusalem.
Israel’s fire service said the incendiary balloons launched earlier from Gaza had caused at least 20 fires in fields by communities in southern Israel.
This is the first violent exchange since Israeli’s new coalition government came to power on Sunday, headed by Naftali Bennett and drawing an end to Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year run as prime minister.