Incendiary balloons continue to land in Israel as talks falter

An Egyptian envoy working to prevent an escalation is encountering difficulties as both Israel and Hamas are refusing to budge.

Gaza balloon units prepare incendiary and explosive balloons to launch towards Israel, August 2020 (photo credit: AHFAD AL-NASSER BALLOON UNIT/TELEGRAM)
Gaza balloon units prepare incendiary and explosive balloons to launch towards Israel, August 2020
Incendiary balloons landed throughout southern Israel on Wednesday, as tensions continue to rise between Israel and terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip.
Police sappers handled a number of balloons that landed within and near towns and residential areas in southern Israel. Israel Fire and Rescue Services announced on Wednesday evening that there were 28 fires throughout the day.
Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned that Israel "knows how to strike not just buildings and targets but also those operating within them."
"We changed the equation in Gaza. Since I entered the position, there are no security disruptions that do not receive a response," added Gantz. "The State of Israel has no interests in Gaza except for bringing our boys back and complete quiet. If these two goals are met, we can develop Gaza."
According to Army Radio, an Egyptian envoy that is working to prevent an escalation stated on Wednesday that there are difficulties in talks to calm the situation as both Israel and Hamas are refusing to budge.
Merhavim Regional Council head Shai Hagag told KAN Reshet Bet on Wednesday that he was "satisfied" with a conversation he had with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday and that according to Netanyahu, all options are open, including targeted assassinations. "Our requests aren't extreme – we want to live in peace," he said.
The Saif Al-Islam Brigades in Gaza warned that they would respond to any assassination with rocket fire on Tel Aviv. The balloon units warned on Wednesday that they would make the day "hell" for Israelis, adding that Israel's "threats and attacks do not, and will not, and will not, intimidate" them.
Khalil al-Haya, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, threatened Israel on Wednesday, saying "Our hands are on the trigger, bombing will be met with bombing, missiles will be met with missiles, killing will be met with killing."
Qatari envoy Muhammad Al-Emadi told Palestinian media on Wednesday that "intensive Qatari efforts are being made to contain the escalation in the Gaza Strip, in parallel with the continuous Qatari efforts to alleviate the humanitarian crisis experienced by the residents of the Strip.
"Intensive Qatari communications have been made during the past hours and are still continuing at the highest levels and with all parties to contain the escalation and spare the residents of the Strip more crises," said al-Emadi.
On Monday, the Egyptian envoy met with Hamas officials in Gaza to attempt to prevent an escalation. Hamas gave the envoy a list of demands, which included extending the fishing zone to 20 nautical miles; permitting the import of dual-use materials; increasing work permits and a number of industrial and infrastructure projects; increasing the number of work permits to 100,000 for Gazan workers allowed into Israel; and the opening of the Keren Shalom border crossing, according to the Lebanese pro-Hezbollah Al-Akhbar news.
Terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip have launched daily waves of incendiary and explosive balloons toward Israel in recent weeks, demanding a lifting of the blockade on the coastal enclave. In the past few days, night disturbances which had been stopped for months were renewed, although they have not taken place in the past two days due to the "security situation."
IDF aircraft carried out airstrikes late Tuesday night against numerous Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, in response to earlier rocket fire that set off sirens in Ashkelon and the Gaza envelope, the IDF Spokesperson's Unit said in a statement.
According to the military, one of the targets was a military compound for one of Hamas's special units.
Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.