Attack helicopter targets two observation posts near Khan Younis in southern Strip in response to balloon-borne device, which blew up in carrot field earlier in the day
By Judah Ari Gross Today, 6:04 pm
The Israeli Air Force struck two Hamas positions in the eastern Gaza Strip on Sunday in response to an explosive device that was flown into southern Israel earlier in the day, the army said.
On Sunday morning, a bomb was flown into Israel using a large cluster of balloons and a drone-like glider device, landing in a carrot field in the Sdot Negev region of southern Israel shortly before noon.
In retaliation for the cross-border attack from Gaza, Israeli military helicopters attacked two observation posts east of Khan Younis that are controlled by the coastal enclave’s Hamas rulers, the Israel Defense Forces said.
“IDF attack helicopters struck two military positions belonging to the Hamas terrorist group in the Gaza Strip in response to the balloon-borne explosive device, which was launched by a model drone,” the army said.
A drone-shaped device from the Gaza Strip, borne by dozens of helium balloons, lands in a carrot field in southern Israel on January 6, 2019. (Israel Police)
In addition to the posts near Khan Younis, Palestinian media reported that the IDF had attacked targets near Jabalia, in northern Gaza, and in the Zeitoun area of Gaza City, in the central Strip. The IDF refused to comment on those reports.
The military did not say who it believed flew the bomb into southern Israel, but said it held Hamas responsible as the rulers of Gaza.
“The IDF will continue to act in defense of the citizens of Israel and against terrorism from the Strip,” the army said.
Though similar to a drone in appearance, the balloon-borne device was apparently not capable of flight.
The name of a Gazan engineering college was printed on the side of the model drone.
Police said the device exploded as a bomb disposal robot examined it. The drone lookalike was then carried away.
“No injuries were caused; the investigation continues,” police said.
It was not immediately clear how the device made it across the border without being shot down by the IDF.
The police reiterated calls to Israelis to contact law enforcement if they see suspicious objects.
The discovery came after a week-long lull in airborne arson attempts from Gaza.
Gaza protesters have launched hundreds of incendiary kites and balloons into Israel over the past nine months, sparking fires that have destroyed forests, burned crops, and killed livestock. Thousands of acres of land have been burned, causing millions of shekels in damages, according to Israeli officials. Some balloons have also carried improvised explosive devices.