Fires Break Out in Israel's South Near Gaza Border for Second Day in a Row

Firefighters put out seven blazes in the area, as Palestinian groups in Gaza apparently resume launching balloons laden with explosives after an eight-month respite

Almog Ben Zikri
Almog Ben Zikri
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A firetruck on the scene of the fires in Eshkol, earlier today
A firetruck on the scene of the fires in Eshkol, earlier todayCredit: Israel Fire and Rescue Service Spokesperson
Almog Ben Zikri
Almog Ben Zikri

At least seven fires broke out Friday near the Gaza border in Israel's south, for the second day in a row of incendiary balloons sent from the Gaza Strip into Israel.

The blazes in the area of the Eshkol regional council were all put out, and Israel's Fire and Rescue Service said that the majority of the fires were relatively small, except for one which ripped through a wheat field.

On Thursday, six fires were started by incendiary balloons at two locations near the Gaza border on Thursday, following a flare-up last month between Israel and Hamas, Israeli authorities say. The fires were all brought under control.

Earlier this week, two booby-trapped balloons were found in the kibbutz of Kfar Aza. It was not clear when they landed in Israel, and they did not start any fires.

Thursday was the first instance of fires started by balloons floated from Gaza since September.

Last week, Hamas said it would hold Israel responsible if Palestinian parliamentary elections were delayed – as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas subsequently did, citing Israel's refusal to allow voting in East Jerusalem.

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