The balloons attached to bombs or other weapons reportedly caused “several large fires” in Israeli territory. Hours later, terrified Gazans took to social media to describe the retaliatory attacks. One man said “a nearby explosion shook the house” and begged “not again please”. Another person said missiles had been “raining on Gaza non-stop for an hour”.
The IDF said its fighter jets pounded Hamas “military compounds and a rocket launch site” late on Thursday in response to the balloons.
And it warned that its forces were preparing for a “variety of scenarios including a resumption of hostilities.”
The force later said sirens were sounding in southern Israel.
The sirens are part of Israel’s air raid system designed to warn residents of incoming attacks.
Many homes have bunkers or other safe spaces for families to seek refuge in.
Israel and Hamas agreed a ceasefire last month which brought an end to their latest round in fighting.
Israeli media outlets said locations in the north and south of the strip were being targeted.
Last month’s truce ended the 11-day war which claimed the lives of 243 Gazans and 11 Israelis.
However, the agreement has proved to be shaky.
Thursday marked the third day in a row that incendiary balloons were sent from Gaza into Israel.
There were no immediate reports of casualties from the strikes, which could be heard from Gaza City.
In the early hours of Wednesday, IDF planes also carried out airstrikes on the blockaded Palestinian territory.
Israel said it targeted Hamas facilities, without killing or wounding anyone.
This weeks hundreds of Gazans protested against the “March of the Flags” in occupied East Jerusalem.
The event staged by Israeli far-right nationalists was deemed “provacative” by many Palestinians.
The march marked the anniversary of Israel’s 1967 occupation of the city’s eastern part.
It came amid rising tensions between Jewish and Palestinian communities, following last month’s fighting and the displacement of Arab families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem.
Earlier today, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh met the speakers of Morocco’s parliament and opposition politicians during a visit to build support for the Palestinian cause.
The meeting came months after the North African nation upgraded diplomatic relations with Israel.
Mr Haniyeh had already met the Islamist PJD, the biggest party in Morocco’s governing coalition.
In December Morocco agreed to improve relations with Israel in a deal with the United States that included US recognition of Rabat’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.
The Algeria-backed Polisario Front wants the contested region to become an independent state.
More to follow…