Arson Balloons From Gaza Spark 39 Fires in Israeli Fields as Tensions Continue

The launching of arson balloons comes as clashes in East Jerusalem left more than 300 Palestinians and at least 20 Israeli police forces injured over the weekend

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Haaretz
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Fire sparked by arson balloon in Israeli field near Gaza border, May 2021.
Fire sparked by arson balloon in Israeli field near Gaza border, May 2021.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz
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Haaretz

Israeli firefighters worked to put out 97 fires in Israeli fields on Sunday, of which 39 were sparked by arson balloons from Gaza.

Israel's Nature and Parks Authority said the fires were detected in fields from Ashdod to Eilat in the south. Trains from Ashkelon to Netivot near the Gaza border were initially shut, but resumed later on Sunday.

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The Israeli army as well as volunteers assisted firefighters from the southern district in putting out the fires, operating in severe weather conditions due to the heat.

A number of fires from arson balloons were sparked in the past week, with 10 fires on Saturday and six on Thursday last week.

Early last week, two balloons attached to suspicious objects were found in the agricultural fields of Kibbutz Kfar Aza and a local bomb squad neutralized them. The balloons did not cause fires, and it is unclear when they landed.

Arson balloons in Gaza, May 2021.Credit: MOHAMMED ABED - AFP

These are the first fires caused by incendiary balloons since last September. Last summer dozens of incendiary balloons were found daily, and the army regularly struck Hamas targets in the Strip in response.

The launching of arson balloons comes as clashes in East Jerusalem left more than 300 Palestinians and at least 20 Israeli police forces injured over the weekend.

After Israeli police forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday night, Hamas threatened with attacking Israel.

Early Sunday morning a rocket was launched from Gaza, landing in an open field in Israel. The Israeli army retaliated by striking Hamas positions in Gaza.

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