Incendiary balloons launched from Gaza across the border into Israel ignited 17 fires in Israeli border communities on Thursday, including a major blaze at Kibbutz Mefalsim near Sderot.
Most of the fires were quickly extinguished and the blaze at Mefalsim was also brought under control by firefighters. On Thursday afternoon, another large fire was reported at Moshav Shuva, south of Mefalsim.
The fire service has reported that some 100 fires erupted since the beginning of the week as a result of incendiary devices launched from the Strip. On Monday, 13 fires were ignited in Gaza border communities from the devices, followed on Tuesday by 15 fires. Early in the week, the firefighting service reported that 300 dunams of land (75 acres) had burned in Sha'ar HaNegev, near the northeastern corner of the Gaza Strip.
For his part, Gadi Yarkoni, who heads the Eshkol Regional Council, which runs south of the Strip to the Egyptian border, said: "The containment policy brings the balloon terrorism to our doorstep. We won't agree to live like this. It’s a shame that an entire country has been forsaken and taken prisoner by the containment policy. We understand that from the standpoint of the State of Israel, it's not a strategic threat, but it is a real threat to the resilience of the residents of Gaza border communities."
In response to the incendiary balloons, which have been launched periodically since last year, Israeli authorities decided on Tuesday to halt the delivery of Israeli fuel for the power plant in the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom border crossing.
The power station relies to a great extent on the supply of Israeli diesel fuel, but is equipped to continue to generate power for several days even in the absence of Israeli fuel shipments. If the cutoff lasts more than a few days, however, it could substantially affect electricity supplies in the Strip and further worsen the humanitarian situation there.