Fragile Israeli coalition government gets first test, launches airstrikes against Hamas


Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s coalition government, just three days after taking office, responded to an incendiary balloon attack by Hamas by launching airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.

Bennett, the right-wing leader who was once the chief of staff to former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said he would approach balloon attacks with the same seriousness as if they were rockets.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the Israel Defense Forces claimed to have targeted Hamas infrastructure. About 20 fires broke out in southern Israel in the aftermath of the balloon attack, according to the report.

The New York Times, citing Palestinian information, reported that one of the Israeli strikes caused damage to at least one property, but there has been no confirmation of any casualties.

The newspaper reported that Israel was on the alert after the new government approved a “far-right Jewish march to pass through Palestinian areas of Jerusalem on Tuesday evening.”

Hundreds of Israeli ultra-nationalists, some chanting “Death to the Arabs,” marched through East Jerusalem in a show of force that threatened to unleash renewed violence.

The violence comes just three weeks after a ceasefire interrupted 11 days of fighting that marked the worst clashes between the IDF and Hamas militants since a small-scale war in 2014.

The Post reported that Hamas called for a “day of rage” to counter the march. Palestinians see the march, intended to celebrate Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem in 1967, as a provocation. Hamas called on the Palestinians to “resist” the parade, one version of which helped spark the 11-day war in Gaza last month.


Yair Lapid, the deputy prime minister who will serve as foreign minister for the first two years of the government’s tenure, said those shouting racist slogans were “a disgrace to the Israeli people”.

“The fact that there are radicals for whom the Israeli flag represents hatred and racism is abominable and unforgivable,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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