Gaza tension escalates

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France 24/The Times of Israel: Israeli fighter jets hit 25 targets in the Gaza Strip early Wednesday in response to rocket fire from the Palestinian territory, the army said.

Around 45 rockets were fired overnight from Gaza towards Israel, the army said in a statement. Seven were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system.

In retaliation, Israeli planes carried out three raids against military compounds belonging to the Islamist movement Hamas, it said.

IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus says the overnight Israeli strikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip were more intense than previous sorties, and could increase if the Palestinian terrorist group continues to launch “arson balloons” into Israeli territory.

“We struck at a greater intensity, with the intended message for Hamas to understand that we will not allow this situation to continue,” Conricus tells reporters. “They [incendiary devices] may look like toys but I can assure they are not toys, they are weapons intended to kill and to inflict damage.”

He says that so far Israel had sought to warn off those launching the airborne devices but that could change.

“We have warned verbally, we have fired various munitions in close proximity to (them), we have fired various munitions on various related supporting infrastructure and equipment, vehicles et cetera, related to efforts to launch kites — that may not remain the situation,” Conricus says.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and other international stakeholders have warned that Gaza is close to the brink of war.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008 and observe a tense ceasefire that is regularly shaken by hostile acts.

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