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Why balloons strapped to explosives are the latest flashpoint in Israel-Hamas tensions

June 16, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 31.4%. 1 min read.

Masked Palestinian supporters of the Al-Nasir Salah Al-Din Brigades prepare incendiary balloons east of Gaza city, to launch across the border fence towards Israel on June 15, 2021. (Photo by Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto)

Incendiary balloons are a cheap way for militant groups in Gaza to send a message to Israel, without provoking the full Israeli military retaliation that often occurs when rockets are fired from the coastal enclave.

Jerusalem (CNN)The Israeli military launched airstrikes against Hamas targets in Gaza overnight after militants floated dozens of so-called "incendiary balloons" over the border fence into Israel.

Officials said at least 20 fires were started Tuesday by the balloons.

More balloons were launched Wednesday, starting at least four more fires, Israeli fire and rescue authorities said.

While militants have been sending balloons into Israel for years, the Israeli military's response of airstrikes in Gaza is a new escalation.

Other than explosives attached to the devices potentially landing in residential areas and causing injuries or damage, the fires from the balloons burn crops and nature reserves.

The balloons are a cheap way for militant groups in Gaza to send a message to Israel, without provoking the full Israeli military retaliation that often occurs when rockets are fired from the coastal enclave.

In the past, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had pushed former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take a tougher stance against Hamas and the launching of incendiary balloons, saying the Israeli military should respond to them in the same way as it responds to rockets directed at Israeli communities.

After last month's 11-day conflict, Israeli officials indicated such acts like incendiary balloons would be met with greater force, something that appears to now be happening.

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by summa-bot

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