When the Israeli government announced its intentions to permit the Jerusalem Day parade to take place, Hamas responded by threatening to fire rockets at Israel. The threat of rockets did not materialize but the southern border of Israel was assaulted by incendiary balloons, forcing the IDF to respond.
The march, a traditional part of the annual festivities commemorating the unification of Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the Jews in the 1967 Six-Day War, was postponed due to Hamas rockets being fired at Jerusalem and Arab violence inside Israel. The march was rescheduled for last Thursday but was again postponed due to security concerns.
As the plans were announced last week to hold the march, Hamas threatened to renew firing rockets at Israel. Arab media reported that the message was passed via Egyptian mediators that Hamas would respond to an ex post facto Jerusalem March in the same way they responded to the original Jerusalem Day March.
Israeli media cited the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar as quoting Hamas sources warning “resistance” would take actions similar to those it took in May, during “Operation Guardian of the Walls,” when more than 4,000 rockets were fired from Gaza at Israeli population centers.
“Instructions were issued to the missile units to prepare,” Hamas reportedly announced, while also calling on all Palestinian factions to hold a “Day of Rage” in “all parts of historic Palestine” on Tuesday, with an emphasis on the Old City of Jerusalem, to “protect” the Al-Aqsa mosque and prevent Jews from entering the Temple Mount complex.
The IDF intensified the alert status of the Iron Dome batteries deployed in the south but no rockets were fired from Gaza. In place of the rockets, balloons carrying incendiary and explosive devices were launched from Gaza, igniting approximately 20 wildfires across southern Israel.
Israel Army Radio reported that prior to the march, the Israeli government informed Egyptian mediators that direct Hamas involvement in the balloon launch would imperil long-term truce talks. Three Gazans were also caught by the IDF infiltrating the border.
Some 5,000 Israelis took part in the parade under heavy security. Police reported that 17 Arabs were arrested for throwing rocks and assaulting police. Two officers sustained injuries and had to be evacuated for medical treatment.
The IDF responded to the incendiary attack by launching airstrikes against Hamas military targets in Gaza on Tuesday night.
“A short while ago, warplanes raided military compounds belonging to Hamas, which were used as camps and meeting sites for terrorist operatives in Khan Yunis and Gaza districts,” the IDF posted on Twitter. “Terrorist activities have taken place inside the compounds.”
“The IDF is prepared for all scenarios, including renewed fighting, in the face of the continuation of terrorist acts emanating” from Gaza, the Israeli military said in a tweet.
Arson balloons were launched from Gaza into Israel yesterday, causing multiple fires. In response, IDF fighter jets struck Hamas military compounds last night, which were used as meeting sites for Hamas terror operatives.
Hamas will bear the consequences for its actions. pic.twitter.com/lYhqfx26fm
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) June 16, 2021
Former Military Intelligence head Amos Yadlin told Army Radio on Wednesday morning warned that not responding to incendiary attacks would inevitably lead to increased violence.
“Hamas threatened, but remembered what happened to it when it fired on Jerusalem – so it did not fire yesterday,” Yadlin said. “There is a miss opportunity to create new rules. If Hamas knows that after burning fields we will attack empty compounds – it will continue.”
Beginning with incendiary kites, aerial incendiary devices ranging from balloons to drones have been used against Israel since the Hamas-led March of Return riots began in March 2018, burning thousands of acres of farmland and nature reserves.
Not to be outdone, the Palestinian Authority, recently re-enfranchised and funded by the Biden administration, also called for violence intended to shut down the march in Jerusalem.
“We warn of the dangerous repercussions that may result from the intention of the occupying power [Israel] to allow extremist Israeli settlers to carry out the Flag March in occupied Jerusalem tomorrow,” Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said Monday on Twitter.
On Wednesday morning, an Arab woman terrorist attempted to ram into a number of IDF soldiers outside the town of Hizma near Jerusalem. After crashing into the area near the soldiers, she exited her vehicle with a knife drawn and was neutralized in response. During the incident, an IDF soldier was lightly injured.