December 8, 2019

Gaza Balloons Ignite Several Fires During Border Riots

FILE PHOTO: Palestinian demonstrators run from tear gas fired by Israeli troops during a protest against the U.S. embassy's move to Jerusalem, ahead of the 70th anniversary of Nakba, at the Israel-Gaza border east of Gaza City May 14, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem/File Photo

A series of incendiary balloons from the Gaza Strip ignited several fires in southern Israel on June 28, despite a reported agreement between Israel and Hamas to end the arson attacks.

The Times of Israel reports that the balloons ignited 14 fires on June 28 during the weekly riots at the Israel-Gaza border, putting the total number of incendiary balloon fires up to 100 for the week. There were no injuries from any of the reported fires.

Under the reported ceasefire agreement earlier on June 28, Hamas would ensure the incendiary balloons would end in exchange for Israel increasing the permitted fishing zone 10 nautical miles to 15 nautical miles and restoring gasoline and diesel fuel imports to Gaza.

“If Hamas will not abide by this commitment, Israel will reinstate sanctions,” an Israeli official told the Times of Israel.

Eshkol Regional Council head Gadi Yarkoni told the Jerusalem Post, “We have turned into a place where the enemy can do as he pleases, and if there’s a ceasefire agreement, it seems that [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not have to update us.”

According to the Post, the incendiary balloons have sparked more than 2,000 fires in Israel since they were first utilized in March 2018, burning down around 8,500 acres of Israeli land.

There were around 7,000 Palestinian protesters at the June 28 riots; IDF fire injured 19 protesters, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.