Israel’s air attacks on Gaza are the first since a tenuous ceasefire with Hamas last month ended 11 days of violence.
Israel has launched air raids on the Gaza Strip after Israel claims Palestinian groups in in the besieged enclave sent incendiary balloons into southern Israel.
The strikes, which took place early Wednesday, were the first between the two sides since Israel’s 11-day bombing of Gaza in May, and came after a Jewish nationalist march in East Jerusalem that drew Palestinian censure.
The Israeli military claimed its planes hit Hamas targets in Gaza City and Khan Younis in the south, adding that it was prepared for “all possibilities, including fresh battle in the face of continuous terrorist attacks from Gaza.”
The attacks were carried out in response to the launch of the balloons, which ignited 20 fires in open fields near the Gaza border, according to the IDF.
Palestinians will continue to pursue their “brave resistance and defend their rights and sacred sites” in Jerusalem, according to a Hamas spokesman who confirmed the Israeli assault to the Reuters news agency.
The number of people killed or injured in Gaza as a result of the bombings was not immediately known.
Palestinian militants said they received no orders from their leaders to respond to the current raids, according to Al Jazeera’s Safwat al-Kahlout, reporting from Gaza.
He also pointed out that in their statement confirming the Israeli airstrikes, Hamas made no mention of reprisal or a response to the assaults.
Israeli strikes on Gaza were the first since a new coalition government led by right-wing nationalist Naftali Bennett won office over the weekend, ending Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year reign.Palestinians were outraged and condemned the procession in East Jerusalem on Tuesday.
On Monday, Israel’s new government allowed a “provocative” march through occupied East Jerusalem by far-right nationalists and pro-settler groups. Thousands Israeli Jews marched through East Jerusalem on Tuesday, waving flags and screaming “Death to Arabs,” inciting Palestinian rage and condemnation.
“May your village burn,” Israeli demonstrators yelled in another anti-Arab cry.
In a scathing condemnation on Twitter, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said those shouting racist slogans were “a disgrace to the Israeli people,” adding: “The fact that there are radicals for whom the Israeli flag represents hatred and racism is abominable and unforgivable.”
The “March of the Flags” commemorates Israel’s 1967 occupation of the city’s eastern sector, and comes as tensions remain high over Israel’s planned forced eviction of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.
Israeli police violently removed dozens of Palestinians from outside the Damascus Gate in the Old City in the days leading up to the march.
As Israeli police fired stun grenades in the area surrounding Damascus Gate, at least 17 Palestinians were arrested and 33 others were injured.