In first, Israeli planes bomb Hamas post in response to Gazan ‘attack kites’ 

Source: In first, Israeli planes bomb Hamas post in response to Gazan ‘attack kites’ | The Times of Israel

Army says site had been used to launch ‘burning incendiaries’ into Israel, stresses no connection to blast in Strip killing 6

Illustrative: Palestinian protesters fly a kite with a burning rag dangling from its tail, during a protest at the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, April 20, 2018. Activists use kites with firebombs and burning rags dangling from their tails to set ablaze drying wheat fields on the Israeli side. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Israeli military aircraft struck a Hamas site in the northern Gaza Strip used as a launching pad for incendiary kites Saturday night, the military said Sunday.

For the past several weeks, Gazans have been regularly flying kites outfitted with containers of burning fuel, often including charcoal and bags of sugar to ensure a long, slow burn.

The attack was in response to “terrorists launching burning incendiaries in an attempt to a cause fire in Israeli territory,” an army spokesperson said.

There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties in Palestinian media.

The army said the Hamas site was located next to the fence separating Israel from the Gaza Strip, which has been the scene of several weeks of violent confrontations over the past weeks.

This was the first known case of the army striking a Hamas site in response to the kite firebombs, dozens of which have been launched in recent weeks.

The kite tactic was introduced as part of the “March of Return” demonstrations at the border fence, which began on March 30 and are due to continue through mid-May.

Palestinians flew a burning kite into Israel Friday morning, starting a blaze close to Kibbutz Kissufim. On Wednesday a fire kite flown from Gaza sparked a large blaze in fields in southern Israel that spread through dozens of acres of grasslands and agricultural fields, authorities said, the largest fire yet since the first use of these kites.

Smoke and flames rise from grassland Kibbutz Be’eri in southern Israel after Palestinians flew a kite laden with a Molotov cocktail over the border on May 2, 2018. (Screen capture/Rafi Bavian)

“The IDF will continue to operate against terror activity above and below land, and holds the Hamas terror organization responsible for all terror activities in the Gaza strip,” an army statement Sunday said.

The move comes after several Israeli reports that the army was considering ramping up its response to the kites, including targeting those launching them with lethal force.

The army specifically noted Sunday that there was “no connection whatsoever” between the strike and a large blast rocked the central Gaza Strip on Saturday, killing at least six members of Hamas’s military wing, according to the terror group.

The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said the fatalities were its members. It blamed Israel for the explosion, without providing details or proof.

Palestinian media, by contrast, said it was a “work accident” — that is, that the terrorists were killed by their own explosives.

The incident occurred during a “complex security and intelligence operation”, the brigades said in a statement, calling it “serious and large security incident” and blaming the “Zionist enemy.”

Last month four Islamic Jihad members were killed in an accidental explosion near the Gaza Strip border with Israel.

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 Scene of explosion in Central Strip. 4 Palestinians killed. This is being reported as an ‘accidental explosion’ which usually involves members of Islamic resistance groups.
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