Israeli warplanes have attacked a Hamas target in Gaza following a Palestinian rocket strike, the Israeli military said, in the first serious cross-border escalation since a surge in fighting last month.

In a statement on Thursday, Israel’s military said fighter planes attacked “underground infrastructure” in a compound belonging to the Hamas group that rules the Gaza Strip after Israeli air defences intercepted a rocket launched from the besieged territory. There were no reports of injuries or casualties.

The latest hostilities followed Israel’s closure of offshore waters to Gaza fisherman on Wednesday in what it said was a response to incendiary balloons launched across the frontier that caused fires in fields in southern Israel this week.

“Due to the continuous launching of incendiary balloons and kites from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, it has been decided tonight [Wednesday] not to allow access to Gaza’s maritime space until further notice,” COGAT, the Israeli defence ministry department responsible for Palestinian civil affairs, said.

A spokesman for the Israeli fire service said incendiary balloons from Gaza caused seven fires on Tuesday alone. In the past year, Palestinians have succeeded in setting fire to large areas of farmland in southern Israel.

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