The Israel Defense Forces struck a Hamas target in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday in response to the ongoing launches of explosives-laden balloons from the Palestinian territory into Israel.

In a brief statement, the army said an aircraft struck a Hamas observation post in northern Gaza.

There were no immediate reports of casualties on either side.

Earlier Sunday, amid rising tensions along the Gaza border, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz convened a situational assessment with IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi. The two decided not to tolerate the continued campaign of cross-border terrorism via incendiary and bomb-laden balloons.

On Sunday afternoon, two more small fires were ignited in Israeli agricultural fields in the Eshkol region near Gaza.

Israel and the terror groups in Gaza have largely observed an unofficial truce in recent months, and Israel holds Hamas responsible for all fire out of the coastal enclave.

Palestinians prepare flammable materials and explosives to be attached to balloons and launched into Israel from the southern Gaza Strip on Aug. 8, 2020. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.

Gaza’s second most powerful terrorist group, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, meanwhile, threatened that Israel “will bear the consequences of anything that happens to the residents or farmers [of Gaza] as a result of the escalation.”

The group issued the threat on Sunday after IDF troops fired smoke grenades across the security fence into Gaza to protect Israeli civilians who came under gunfire while doing construction work on the security barrier. The troops conducting the evacuation operation also came under fire. No casualties were reported, but the IDF halted construction and stopped traffic in the area.

PIJ called the incident “the continuation of Israeli terror” that will lead to a “Palestinian response,” adding that “the scenes of random shootings by the [Israeli] army forces at the residents of the Gaza Strip continue to repeat themselves. This is a clear threat that endangers the residents’ lives.”

The recent developments appear tied to the looming cessation of Qatar’s monthly injection of cash to Gaza, and Qatar’s seeming unwillingness to renew its grant for a period of six more months. Qatar has transferred millions of dollars in cash to Gaza every month for the past two years.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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