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Israeli military says it launched attacks on Hamas site in Gaza

By The Associated Press

Tel Aviv: Israel launched air strikes on a Hamas military site in the Gaza Strip early Tuesday after incendiary balloons were sent over Israeli territory.

The fighter jets struck a Hamas rocket manufacturing workshop and a Hamas military compound in the city of Khan Younis in southern Gaza, according to an army statement.

The military said the complex houses a cement factory used to build tunnels used for terrorist attacks “and is purposefully located in a civilian area adjacent to a mosque and a water treatment site.”

The military said the attacks were in response to Hamas setting fire to balloons in Israeli territory.

On Monday, hundreds of supporters of Islamic Jihad rallied in Gaza, and the terrorist group sent incendiary balloons across the border in support of six Palestinian prisoners who had escaped overnight from one of the most secure Israeli prisons.

It was the biggest prison break of its kind in decades. Israel launched a massive search operation in the north of the country and the occupied West Bank. The search continued on Tuesday as well.

The exodus marks a shameful security breach just before the Jewish New Year, when Israelis head north to enjoy beaches, camps and the Sea of ​​Galilee. The prisoners appeared to have gone into hiding and there was no sign that Israeli officials viewed them as an immediate threat.

Palestinians regard the prisoners held by Israel as heroes of their national cause, and many celebrated their escape on social media. Efforts to apprehend those fleeing will likely draw attention to the Palestinian Authority’s security coordination with Israel, which is very unpopular among Palestinians. There was no immediate comment from the PA, but President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party praised the escape.

A photo released by the prison service shows a narrow hole in the floor of a cell, and Israeli security forces can be seen investigating a similar hole on a stretch of gravel just outside the prison walls.

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