Incendiary balloons land in Rishon LeZion, schoolyard in Eshkol
For the first time, a suspicious balloon with Arabic writing is found in the central city; school matron in Eshkol locates device during routine inspection of the premises; In addition, large fire near a railway track in Sderot prompts authorities to close nearby road due to heavy smoke.
The device was neutralized by police sappers without causing any damage. This is the fifth such balloon to land in the Shfela region this week.
The Israel Police issued a statement in response to the incident, urging the public to alert the authorities if they come across suspicious devices.
"Call the emergency services and move away from the object until the neutralization of the suspicious object is completed by the police,” stressed the statement.
In addition, an incendiary balloon landed in a schoolyard in the Eshkol Regional Council.
The device had been spotted by the school matron during a routing morning inspection. It did not cause fire and was removed by local security personnel before the school day had started.
Head of the Eshkol Regional Council, Gadi Yarkoni, demanded the government put an end to Hamas-led kites and balloons terror.
"The alertness of the school matron and the immediate arrival of local security personnel allowed us to neutralize the balloon before the arrival of the students ... Eshkol has been dealing with balloon terrorism for over sixth months … we demand that the Israeli government act decisively to put an end to this threat to give our children a sense of security," Yarkoni vented.
Amid the ongoing tensions along the southern border, there has been a surge in the number of incendiary kites and balloons launched from Gaza into Israel. Reports also suggest that balloons which had been found in Jerusalem and Modi’in were flown from the West Bank.
On Friday, the arson terror continued, as at least three fires broke out in Kibbutzim Or HaNer and Erez, in the Gaza border region.
Furthermore, a fire had broken out near a railway track in the city of Sderot, prompting the authorities to close Route 34 between Sderot and Kibbutz Yad Mordechai due to a heavy smoke.
On Thursday, a massive fire broke out in the Nachal Shikma nature reserve as a result on an incendiary balloon. Four firefighting crews equipped with engineering tools operated at the scene in order to extinguish the flames.
Earlier this week, the KKL released a report which suggests that over the past six months 11,920 dunams (some 3,000 acres) of farmland and woodland have been burned in fires caused by incendiary kites and balloons.
Forests in the Gaza border region saw 1,053 fires that consumed countless of trees. The majority of the conflagrations erupted in the Be'eri forest, which suffered 452 fires, while 353 fires broke out in the Kissufim Forest.
The Shokeda Forest saw 75 fires, while 31 fires erupted in the Hannun Forest and 29 fires scorched the HaBesor Stream Forest.