IDF Thwarts Fire Balloon Launch in Gaza

YERUSHALAYIM -

On the eve of a threatened barrage of incendiary kites and balloons, the IDF thwarted the launching of a balloon in Gaza on Thursday afternoon.

The military said it fired a warning shot at a group of Palestinians getting ready to send an incendiary helium balloon across the border, driving them away. It then carried out an airstrike on what it described as “infrastructure” for assembling the arson devices.

The “infrastructure” was an outdoor facility used by the cell to inflate the balloons and make the incendiary devices, according to media reports.

“We view the use of incendiary balloons and kites very seriously and will continue to act to prevent their use,” the army said in a statement.

There were no reports of injuries in either of the Israeli strikes.

The incident came amid threats from Hamas to barrage southern Israel with 5,000 kites and balloons on Friday for the first day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, as broadcast by the Hamas-affiliated Shehab news agency.

Earlier in the day, a balloon from the Gaza Strip landed on a fence on the Sapir College campus in Sderot, which led authorities to close down the area until a police sapper arrived to handle it.

The sapper determined that the balloon was attached to a simple pouch of burning material rather than an explosive device, a local government official was quoted as saying by The Times of Israel.

The area was reopened.