Fires Break Out in Israel Near Gaza Border, Suspected by Kites From Gaza

Although the state refers to burning fields by kites as terrorism, it has not collected data on fires in the area

A fire in the fields of Kibbutz Nir Am near the Gaza border on Monday, May 7.
Elad Snir

Three separate fires broke out in Israeli fields near the Gaza border on Monday and were extinguished hours later. Emergency services are investigating the source of the fires, but they are suspected of being caused by kites or helium baloons with flammable materials attached sent into Israel from the Gaza Strip. 

One of the fires damanged agricultral fields of Kibbutz Nir Am in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional council. The fire was extinguished after two hours, and a piece of paper suspected of being part of the flammable installation atop the kite or balloon was found. According to the regional council, that fire destroyed between 70 and 100 dunams. 

Another fire broke out in the Be'eri forest, an area damaged by fires last month. The third was also in Nir Am. All fires have been extinguished and no structural damage was reported.

Although the state refers to burning fields by kites as terrorism, and even notes that it compensates farmers whose crops are damaged as a result, the IDF told Haaretz that it does not collect data on fires in the area and their connection to such kites.

Palestinians prepare to set kites on fire to be thrown at the Israeli side at a protest at the Israel-Gaza border in the southern Gaza Strip, May 4, 2018.
\ IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/ REUTERS

Therefore, the army says it does not know how many dunams have been burned by kites or how many kite fires occurred over the past month. On the question of how many kites crossed from Gaza into Israel from the beginning of Palestinian protests along the Gaza border, the IDF did not reply.