Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz says he considers Hamas, the Islamist ruler of the Gaza Strip, to be responsible for all rocket fire and incendiary- or bomb-laden balloons sent into Israel from the coastal enclave. “By launching rockets and explosive balloons, the heads of Hamas are undermining the interests of the residents of Gaza and impairing their ability to live in dignity and security,” Gantz said Sunday in a statement issued after Israel retaliated overnight for such attacks. “The IDF will respond forcefully to any violation of sovereignty until complete quiet is restored in the south.” Recuperating from back surgery, the defense minister invoked the name of a town in southern Israel where a rocket landed several hours earlier, at about 1 am, saying: “If Sderot isn’t quiet, Gaza won’t be either.” The overnight rockets were the first to target Israel since Thursday, when it was announced that the Jewish state and the United Arab Emirates would be pursuing a peace agreement. The past several weeks have seen a spate of brush fires in southern Israel started by incendiary devices slung underneath helium-filled balloons launch from the Gaza Strip.
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