As evidence, the military released a video (above), filmed from its surveillance cameras, showing masked operatives taking balloons from what the IDF said was a Hamas observation post and walking toward the border, presumably to launch them at southern Israel.
For the past several weeks, dozens of incendiary kites and balloons have been regularly flown into Israel each day. They have sparked hundreds of fires that have burned thousands of acres of agricultural fields, grassland and forests, and caused millions of shekels in damage.
The army said the efforts to launch the incendiary and explosive devices were being directed by Hamas regional commanders. Some of the materials used to make the kites and balloons are also coming from Hamas positions, according to the IDF.
The military released the names and photographs of four men that it accused of being leaders in the arson attacks: Bassem Hatem Abd Hazin, Mutasim Fathi Atia Nabahin, Muhana Ibrahim Abd Hamdan and Amro Hussein Muhammad Abu Deif.
By identifying the men, the IDF was sending a tacit threat to them and to the Hamas organization in general, with the implication that the military could target them for assassination.
“The IDF is working with increasing force against these terror cells — by shooting near them — against the terrorist infrastructure that belongs to them, and against Hamas targets deep in the Gaza Strip,” the army said. “We will not allow this terror to be a threat to the citizens of Israel and its land.”
The IDF has twice conducted predawn airstrikes against Hamas targets in response to extensive airborne arson attacks. In both cases, the terror group and its ally the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad have retaliated to the air raids by launching rockets or mortar shells at Israel.