Arson balloons from Gaza spark 8 fires in southern Israel


Explosives-laden balloons floated over the Israel-Gaza border on Monday sparking eight wildfires in the space of an hour on Monday afternoon as they landed in Israeli territory.

The fires broke out in farmland near Shaar Hanegev and the Eshkol Regional Council. Firefighters and employees of the JNF and Israel Nature and Parks Authority were successfully battling the blazes in the Eshkol region.

One of the fires erupted at a memorial to the late Staff Sgt. Asaf-Yaakov Siboni near Kibbutz Nir Am. Siboni was a Nahal Brigade soldier who was killed when two IDF helicopters crashed in northern Israel in February 1997.

On Sunday, after a week of relative calm during which Gaza-adjacent communities in the western Negev were spared arson balloons and kites, seven separate wildfires broke out as a result of several dozen arson balloons that were released from the Gaza Strip.

A security coordinator for one of the Eshkol region communities said Sunday that “we are battling the problem of arson balloons around the clock.”

The area around a memorial to Staff Sgt. Asaf-Yaakov Siboni near Kibbutz Nir Am is seen blackened as a result of one of the fires. | Photo: Shaar Hanegev security

“That has become our main occupation, while ongoing security work is pushed aside, because the balloon terrorism has become a major issue in the day-to-day lives of the residents of [these]communities. The ones who pay the heaviest price are the farmers, who see months of labor go up in flames in moments. Massive damage is also being caused to the fields [themselves]and the crops, as well as to agricultural equipment,” the coordinator said.

“The fact that the government, and the defense establishment, lives with this terror and does almost nothing to contain the phenomenon – not shooting down the balloons, but active steps against Hamas and the [other]terrorist groups and the people who release the balloons – is a disgrace.

“The lives of the residents are forfeit. No country in the world would allow terrorism like this to go on, and accept it in defeat,” he added.

Originally posted at Israel Hayom.

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