Israel carries out series of airstrikes in Gaza Strip after Hamas launches fire balloons

It is the first major flare-up of violence since 11 days of fighting last month.

Israel says it has carried out a series of airstrikes against Hamas militant sites in the Gaza Strip, in the first major flare-up of violence since 11 days of fighting last month.

Explosions were heard in Gaza in the early hours with Israel saying that they were carried out in response to incendiary balloons being launched from the territory.

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Explosions light-up the night sky above buildings in Gaza City as Israeli forces shell the Palestinian enclave (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS/AFP via Getty Images)
Explosions light-up the night sky above buildings in Gaza City as Israeli forces shell the Palestinian enclave (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS/AFP via Getty Images)

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At a glance: 5 key points

- Israeli military said the airstrikes targeted facilities used by Hamas militants for meetings to plan attacks.

- On Tuesday, hundreds of Israeli ultra-nationalists paraded in east Jerusalem in a show of force that threatened to spark renewed violence. Palestinians in Gaza responded by launching incendiary balloons that caused at least 10 fires in southern Israel.

- The march posed a test for Israel's fragile new government as well as the ceasefire that was struck after last month’s war.

- Palestinians consider the march, meant to celebrate Israel's capture of east Jerusalem in 1967, to be a provocation.

- No casualties have been reported from the latest flare-up of violence.

What’s been said

At one point during the march, several dozen youths, jumping and waving their hands in their air, chanted: "Death to Arabs" and “may your village burn”.

In response to that, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said those shouting racist slogans were "a disgrace to the Israeli people".

"The fact that there are radicals for whom the Israeli flag represents hatred and racism is abominable and unforgivable."

Background

Last month’s 11-day conflict began with clashes between Palestinians and Israelis at a holy site revered by both Muslims and Jews.

Israel warned Hamas to withdraw from the site, the militant group responded by firing rockets into the country. This triggered air strikes from Israel on Gaza targets.

The UN said at least 256 people were killed in Gaza and 13 died in Israel before the ceasefire came into effect.

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