‘Israeli fields will take decades to recover from Gaza firebombing’

KKL agriculture expert says it will take 'up to 30 years' to rehabilitate scorched land; local security official says Israel must respond to every incendiary balloon, warning if not, rockets will be fired next
Alexandra Lukash, Attila Somfalvi|
An agriculture expert on Sunday warned that it will take decades for Israeli fields to recover from massive fires caused by incendiary balloons sent from Gaza over the years.
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  • Since a May 21 ceasefire ended 11 days of Israel-Hamas fighting, Palestinians in Gaza have renewed the years-long practice of sporadically launching balloons laden with incendiary material across the border, causing fires that have burned many fields and forests in Israel.
    4 View gallery
    פלסטינים בעזה מכינים בלוני נפץ
    פלסטינים בעזה מכינים בלוני נפץ
    Palestinians prepare to launch incendiary balloons into Israel
    (Photo: Getty Images)
    Moshe Baruchi, an expert from Keren Kayemet LeYisrael (JNF-KKL), told Ynet that around 10 acres of forest went up in flames since Thursday alone in fires caused by incendiary balloons.
    "A fairly large area was burned here, including a nature reserve. There were some six or seven fires over the weekend," Baruchi said. "There are forests that will not recover on their own, and it will take us up to 30 years to rehabilitate them."
    The IDF struck Hamas targets in Gaza late on Saturday in retaliation for incendiary balloons that were flown across the border and sparked at least one fire.
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    מכבים את האש שנגרמה מבלוני התבערה בעוטף עזה
    מכבים את האש שנגרמה מבלוני התבערה בעוטף עזה
    Fire fighters extinguish a fire caused by incendiary balloons launched from Gaza
    (Photo: Haim Horenstein)
    "Fighter jets attacked Hamas weapons manufacturing facility and a rocket launching site," the IDF Spokesperson's Unit said in a statement on Sunday. "The military will respond aggressively to any further attempts to initiate terror attacks across the border," the statement read.
    Since the new government came into power l month, the IDF has responded to every incendiary device launched from the Gaza Strip in Israel.
    A security official from an Israeli community bordering Gaza said that despite the previous government did not deal well with the dangerous phenomenon, which burned thousands of acres of land.
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    בני חסון, מפקד יחידת הכיבוי בקיבוץ כיסופים
    בני חסון, מפקד יחידת הכיבוי בקיבוץ כיסופים
    Head of the firefighting brigade of Kibbutz Kissufim
    (Photo: Haim Horenshtein)
    "We must not allow even the smallest of fires and our leaders must stay true to their word. We all understand the incendiary devices will be followed by rockets."
    Meanwhile, Israel announced last week that it would allow the transport of fuel into Gaza to operate its power station due to recent relative calm on the southern border. The government also approved an expansion to the fishing zone for Gaza fishermen to use, and the provision of raw materials for essential industries.
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    משאיות עם סיוע הומניטרי לעזה
    משאיות עם סיוע הומניטרי לעזה
    A truck carrying fuel arrives at the Israel-Gaza border before entering the Strip
    (Photo: AFP)
    Israel has also continued negotiations with Egyptian mediators to secure the release of the remains of two dead IDF soldiers and two civilians, believed held by the Hamas terror group.
    In addition, the UN agreed to assume responsibility for the distribution of monetary aid from Qatar to Gaza, to be given to families in need, according to a report on Sunday in the Palestinian Al Quds newspaper.
    The report, which was not confirmed by Israel, the PA or Hamas Gaza, said that Jerusalem agreed to the UN role but insisted that the aid from Qatar will not be delivered in cash.
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