The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) carried out airstrikes against the extremist group in response to the launching of incendiary balloons from Palestinian bases, which caused dozens of fires in southern Israel.
The counterattack, which occurred between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning local time, targeted Hamas military compounds, the IDF reported.
“The IDF is prepared for all scenarios, including the resumption of hostilities, in the face of continued terrorist acts in the Gaza Strip,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit reported in a statement, the Times Israel said.
Officials blamed Hamas terrorists for breaking the 3-week ceasefire after 11 days of continuous attacks and counter-attacks.
“The Hamas terrorist organization is responsible for all events taking place in the Gaza Strip and will bear the consequences of its actions,” the army said in the statement. “The IDF is prepared for any scenario, including the resumption of hostilities, in the face of continued terrorist activities in the Gaza Strip.”
The attacks come after dozens of Palestinians rioted and clashed with the IDF along the Gaza border on Tuesday, as tensions rose over a march by Israelis through Jerusalem’s Old City.
Tzvi Joffre, a reporter for the Jerusalem Post, covered the incidents posting on his Twitter account, “As tensions continue to rise, #Palestinians clashed for a short period with Israeli forces by the Damascus Gate, ahead of the flag march scheduled for 5:30pm today in #Jerusalem.”
Israeli forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets at Palestinian rioters to disperse them.
Following these incidents, Palestinian attacks with incendiary balloons began, setting dozens of fires in southern Jerusalem. The IDF was quick to respond and carried out a series of airstrikes throughout the Gaza Strip early Wednesday morning in response to the terror attacks.
Video footage in southern Israel on Tuesday afternoon showed large amounts of smoke in the border area due to the riots, which continued into the evening when the Night Confusion Units in Gaza were back in operation, throwing explosives and burning tires.
As part of security preparations in light of the flag march, flight routes to and from Ben-Gurion Airport were diverted for departures and arrivals from the north on Tuesday.
The Hamas terrorist group acknowledged the attacks perpetrated and even recognized it as a victory in its “deterrence goal,” via a statement:
“The courageous stances of the Palestinian resistance, and its decisive decisions that forced the Israeli occupation to change the path of the so-called march of flags away from the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque, change the path of civil aviation, and intensify the deployment of the Iron Dome, confirm the achievement of the deterrence equation it imposed in the Battle of Saif al-Quds, and its success in imposing new rules of engagement on the enemy,” Hamas said Tuesday night according to The Jerusalem Post.
IDF planes carried out strikes on empty Hamas bases as a warning. They were the first airstrikes since the cease-fire and a demonstration that they will not stand idly by for further attacks.