Israel Fires Toward Gaza Cell That Launched Airborne Firebombs

Twenty-seven fires broke out in Gaza-border communities throughout the day ■ Israeli military arrests Palestinian trying to breach border fence

Israeli fire-fighting forces putting out a fire close to the Gaza border.
\ Eliyahu Hershkovitz

An Israeli army aircraft fired at a Hamas cell that launched incendiary balloons toward Israeli territory from the southern Gaza Strip, the military said Wednesday.

The army also said it detected a Palestinian trying to cross the border fence in the south of the strip. He was caught and while security forces searched him, soldiers found explosive materials and metal-cutting instrument. The man was subsequently taken for questioning by security forces.

>> Fire damage to Israeli agriculture near Gaza border estimated at $1.4m and rising

Fire-fighting and rescue services were called to contain 27 fires that blazed along the Gaza border throughout the day as result of airborne firebombs hurled at Israel. All the fires were put out.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that Israel will close the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Gaza over the airborne firebombs being sent into Israel in recent weeks.

"In agreement with the defense minister, we will act with a heavy hand against the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip," Netanyahu said.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum called the step "a new crime against humanity" that are against international law and human rights.

This was not the only step Israel is taking to counter the threat, Netanyahu said, but refused to elaborate. "As for Gaza, I've already told you that I have no intention to prematurely announce all of the steps we are taking," the prime minister told Likud lawmakers. "There will be other steps which I won't detail."