Israel and Hamas Exchange Blows as Southern Border Heats Up
Residents of southern Israel awoke on Tuesday to continuing fires, ignited by explosive balloons launched by Hamas operatives in the Gaza Strip. On Monday, firefighters were forced to battle flames at more than 30 separate locations near the border, leading to the government’s decision to close the Kerem Shalom border crossing for all supplies and equipment into Gaza, except for humanitarian aid and essential fuel. The Israeli Defense Ministry warned that Hamas’ acts “will hurt the residents of Gaza first and foremost.” On Sunday, Israel destroyed a Hamas military post in response to the launching of incendiary balloons and after unidentified Gaza residents opened fire at an army vehicle patrolling the border. The tensions around the Strip have heightened in recent days after weeks of relative quiet, as Palestinian leaders in Gaza accused Israel of reneging on its commitments to allow the commencement of infrastructure projects.