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Israel-Palestine: How balloons brought new fighting between Israel and Hamas

The ink has barely dried on May’s cease-fire agreement, but violence has reerrupted along the Gaza Strip.

An Israeli soldier stands near a car said to be used in an attack near Hizmeh Junction in the West Bank.
An Israeli soldier stands near a car said to be used in an attack near Hizmeh Junction in the West Bank, Wednesday, June 16, 2021.
Maya Alleruzzo, Associated Press

Two weeks ago, Israel and Hamas reached a fragile cease-fire to end an 11-day air war that devastated the Gaza Strip. Now, a new round of violence has erupted in the region and further escalation remains a serious possibility, reported NPR.

  • Hamas launched “incendiary balloons” into Israel, according to The New York Times.
  • Israel launched airstrikes into Gaza, said NPR.
  • No injuries or fatalities were reported on either side, saids CNN.

International mediators have already renewed negotiations to restore a cease-fire, said The New York Times.

Why are Israel and Hamas fighting? What does it have to do with balloons?

Tensions between Israel and Palestine heightened this week due to Tuesday’s Flag March in Jerusalem. The Flag March celebrates Israel’s capture of Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War, reports NPR. The parade route marched through Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem with some Jewish nationalists chanting, “Death to Arabs,” reported NPR.

  • In response to the march, Hamas released “incendiary balloons” into southern Israel, sparking 26 fires, reported The New York Times.
  • Following the balloon attack, Israeli Defense Forces launched airstrikes into Gaza early Wednesday morning, said NPR.
  • Hamas did not return rocket fire, per CNN.

The recent violence comes only three days after Israel’s new government took office. The new prime minister, Naftali Bennett, is an ultranationalist who has long supported taking a firmer stance towards Hamas and Palestine. However, his cross-party coalition remains divided over recent events, said The New York Times.

Will this fighting become a long war?

Foreign diplomats from Egypt and the U.N. have already begun efforts to stabilize the region with a longer-term truce, reported The New York Times.

  • The Israeli Defense Forces publicly stated that they are “prepared for any scenario, including a resumption of hostilities, in the face of continuing terror activities from the Gaza Strip,” per CNN.
  • Hamas has not publicly confirmed nor denied further attacks, said The New York Times.

However, privately, both sides have indicated they do not want an increase in further conflict, diplomats told The New York Times. Still, the situation remains tense with serious escalation an ongoing possibility.