השריפות באזור הדרום
Fire and Rescue Services moving in to extinguish a fire in southern Israel
Photo:Fire and Rescue Services
Massive fire in southern Israel started by incendiary balloons

Over 20 fires break out in southern Israel due to incendiary balloons

Gantz approves reducing the fishing zone off the Gaza coast from 15 to 8 nautical miles after 7th straight day of attacks that see Gaza militants launch explosive devices attached to balloons into Israel; in first, Israel deploys balloon defense system

Matan Tzuri, Yoav Zitun, Ilana Curiel |
Published: 08.12.20 , 21:57
Over 20 fires broke out on Wednesday in Israeli communities bordering the Gaza Strip, due to incendiary balloons sent into Israel from the Hamas-controlled enclave for the seventh day in a row.
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  • The resumption of the practice by the militants in recent weeks appears to be in retaliation to Qatar's refusal to continue its financial aid program to Gaza and as a tool to put pressure on Israel to push for more funding for the Strip.
    יערות שנשרפו בגלל בלוני תבערהיערות שנשרפו בגלל בלוני תבערה
    Massive fire in southern Israel started by incendiary balloons
    (Photo: KKL )
    As a result of the attacks, Defense Minister Benny Gantz has ordered to reduce the fishing area off the coast of Gaza from 15 to 8 nautical miles starting Wednesday and until further notice.
    "The decision was made in the face of repeated terror acts, emanating from the Gaza Strip, against Israeli citizens in recent days," Gantz said in a statement. "Hamas is responsible for everything that happens inside and outside the Gaza Strip and it will bear the consequences."
    The decision to reduce the fishing zone comes following consultation with IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi. On Tuesday, Israel closed the Kerem Shalom border crossing to all traffic except humanitarian aid and fuel.
    השריפות באזור הדרוםהשריפות באזור הדרום
    Fire and Rescue Services moving in to extinguish a fire in southern Israel
    (Photo:Fire and Rescue Services )
    According to the Israel Fire and Rescue Services, the fires were extinguished with cooperation from the Nature and Parks Authority, the KKL-Jewish National Fund and the IDF forces.
    In addition, the defense system meant to intercept small objects such as balloons was deployed for operational use for the first time, after reaching 90% success rate during trials.
    While the system has proven reliable, it is located in one specific location of the Gaza border region and is unable to provide cover to the entire area bordering the Strip.
    שריפה מבלון תבערה במתחם שיחזור הקרב מ-1948 בקיבוץ יד מרדכישריפה מבלון תבערה במתחם שיחזור הקרב מ-1948 בקיבוץ יד מרדכי
    Incendiery balloon cluster near Kibbutz Yad Mordechai
    ( Photo: Courtesy)
    "We are once again appealing to the public," said the police in a statement, "if there is anything that raises suspicion, contact the police by dialing 100 immediately."
    In the last 72 hours, there have been 45 fires in the KKL-JNF forests in the south, scorching about 850 dunams of land. In Kibbutz Or HaNer near Sderot, about 2,000 dunams caught fire. And in municipality of Netiv HaAsara, approximately 350 dunams were burned.
    Since last week, fires have consumed close to 2,000 acres of forest trees and agricultural fields. No casualties were reported.
    בלוני תבערה בקיבוץ כיסופיםבלוני תבערה בקיבוץ כיסופים
    A fire started by an incendiary balloon near Kibbutz Kisufim
    (Photo: Avi Rokah)
    "It is the right of the Palestinian people to live with dignity on their land and to fight in order to lift the siege that has been imposed on them for the past 14 years," said Hamas in a statement. "Israeli pressure and threats will not break our willingness to lift the siege."

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