Israeli air raids target Gaza for third time since May ceasefire

No casualties reported in attack that Israel has said was in response to launching of ‘incendiary balloons’ from Gaza.

At least 256 Palestinians, including 66 children, were killed in the attacks in May [File: Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

Israel said its fighter jets targeted a weapons manufacturing site in the Gaza Strip overnight on Friday in the latest unrest since a ceasefire ended May’s attacks.

Security sources with Hamas said the raids hit training sites and no casualties were reported.

The Israeli army spokesperson stated that the air raid came in response to the launching of incendiary balloons from the Gaza Strip towards the surrounding Israeli settlements.

“In response to the arson balloons fired towards Israeli territory today, [military] fighter jets struck … a weapons manufacturing site belonging to the Hamas terror organisation,” the statement said.

There was no immediate indication as to which Gaza-based group was responsible for the balloon launch, but Israel holds Hamas responsible for any action.

It was the third time Israel has carried out air attacks in Gaza since the end of the 11-day offensive it launched in the blockaded territory in May this year.

The conflict killed at least 256 Palestinians, including 66 children, according to Gaza authorities.

In Israel, 13 people, including two children, were killed by rockets fired from Gaza, the police and army said.

Egyptian and international mediators have been trying to shore up the informal ceasefire that ended the most recent war.

In recent days, Israel has eased restrictions to allow in Qatar-funded fuel, extended Gaza’s fishing zone and permitted increased cross-border commerce.

There have been multiple flare-ups since the ceasefire, including a series of balloon launches last month. Israel has responded with air strikes.

Following an exchange of fire on June 18, Israeli army chief ordered forces to be ready “for a variety of scenarios including a resumption of hostilities”.

The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade since 2007, after Hamas – which was democratically elected the year before – took control of the coastal enclave.

At least two million people – half of them under the age of 18 – live in the territory, one of the world’s most densely populated area, in dire humanitarian conditions.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies