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May 22, 2019 3:36 pm

Amid Heat Wave, Gaza Incendiary Devices Set Off Nine Fires in Southern Israel

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Palestinians in Gaza carry balloons loaded with flammable material to be launched toward Israel. Photo: Reuters / Ibraheem Abu Mustafa.

Amid a wave of hot and dry weather, nine fires were caused in southern Israel on Wednesday by incendiary devices launched by terrorists in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Israel’s Channel 13 reported that all the blazes occurred in the Eshkol Regional Council near the border. Fire services, the Jewish National Fund and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority worked together to keep the fires contained.

Over the past year, thousands of incendiary devices, mostly balloons fitted with crude firebombs, have been flown into Israel from Gaza. So far, there have been no fatalities as a result, but millions of dollars in damage have been suffered.

Knesset member Alon Schuster of the opposition Blue and White party, a former mayor of the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council, sharply criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Gaza policy.

“Despite the promises of an arrangement and calm, the [Gaza border area] is again burning, and the Israeli government led by Netanyahu does not offer the residents any hope,” Schuster said. “Netanyahu knows that the strength of the residents of the [Gaza border area] will meet any test, so he leaves them to the mercy of Hamas and its operatives.”

“Netanyahu does not want to deal with Hamas,” Schuster asserted. “He needs the terror organization because his political future depends on the continuation of the burning, bloody status quo, and the failure to find a long-term strategic solution.”

Earlier in the day, the Israeli news site Mako reported that hundreds of thousands of balloons, apparently bound for Gaza to make incendiary devices, had been interdicted at the Port of Ashdod.

An Israeli citizen was arrested on smuggling charges in connection with the case. According to reports, he used his Israeli citizenship to thwart security checks. He was said to have intended to import the balloons, transfer them to Hebron in the West Bank, and then gradually send them to Gaza.

The suspect’s motivation is believed to have been purely financial.

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