Gazans are using ‘fire balloons’ to decimate portions of Israel, including the country’s nature reserves.

According to the Times of Israel, a “total of at least 17,500 dunams – nearly 7 square miles – of land burned as Palestinians repeatedly send airborne incendiary devices across the border.”

During Gaza’s ‘March of Return‘, fire kites were used to start fires in Israeli fields, but as the Times of Israel reports, “a new arson tactic has been gaining popularity along the Gaza border. Instead of kites, a different children’s toy is being flown into Israel: helium balloons.”

The concept is the same: Launch the airborne incendiary devices into the air and rely on the breeze from the coast to push them into Israeli territory, where they can start a fire.

The balloon tactic has been in use for at least a month and a half, but it has picked up in recent weeks.

In total, approximately 17,500 dunams (4,300 acres, or nearly seven square miles) of land have been burned in more than 250 fires over the past two months, more than half of it in nature reserves, according to initial assessments.

Authorities have yet to determine how many of the fires were started by kites and how many by balloons. “Kite terror” has become a catch-all term for the phenomenon.

As of Monday, there have been no injuries caused by the fires, but the cost of the damage is high and expected to increase, as there’s no sign that Palestinians in Gaza are giving up on the arson tactic.

Sunday, fires swept through the Shokeda Forest, setting swaths of it ablaze. The fires were started by an incendiary kite flown over the border by Gazans.

ynetnews has that story:

Two firefighting crews were called to the scene to battle the raging flames as the phenomenon of flaming kites continues to wreak havoc on Israel’s southern residents, with the IDF as yet unable to provide a comprehensive counter solution. Another fire also broke out at the Re’im parking lot.

The forest is visited each winter by thousands of tourists who flock from around the country to participate in the “Red South” festival.

Despite the effectiveness of the primitive weapon being increasingly employed by terrorists from the Gaza border, the IDF has registered some success in tackling the threat.

On Sunday evening, soldiers managed to foil an attempt to fly a flaming kite into Israeli territory that glided the border on the southern strip, causing it to fall near the security fence. No one was hurt in the incident.


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