Hamas Claims Terror Balloons Can Reach Be’er Sheva

YERUSHALAYIM -
A Palestinian terrorist prepare a balloon that will be attached to flammable materials to be flown toward Israel near the Israeli Gaza border, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on June 17. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Once again, the IDF is preparing to face off against thousands of Hamas terrorists who are expected to riot at the Gaza border fence Friday. The terrorists are expected to continue to fly terror balloons and kites at Israeli farms and forests. On Thursday, firefighters battled 17 blazes. Most were brought under control before they could do major damage, with one – in the Be’eri forest – burning several dozen dunams.

On Thursday night, officials dismantled in a controlled manner two balloons that appeared to have explosives attached to them. The two balloons were discovered in a town in the Eshkol Regional Council. No injuries or damage were reported.

Media in Gaza on Thursday showed balloons that they claimed had much further range than the current balloons being used. The advanced balloons, Hamas claimed, could be used to reach as far as Be’er Sheva. For balloons to travel that far, they need to be filled with helium, and Israeli officials said that the helium to be used in the balloons that is available in Gaza was allowed into the Strip for medical purposes. The IDF said that that use of helium meant for hospitals in terror attacks was another example of “the cynical use of resources meant for Gaza civilians for its terror attacks.”

Frustrated residents of southern Israel on Thursday night shut down the Ashkelon Junction, the main entrance into the city, in protest over what they called was the “laxity” of the government and the IDF in dealing with the latest round of Gaza terror. Also marching were several dozen Israeli women in support of Gaza, demanding that Israel stop retaliating against terrorists along the border fence.

Commenting on the situation, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Thursday that “those who pull us toward a confrontation will be very sorry they did so. The Israel Air Force has an important role in this. We do not intend to be dragged into anything, rather we will lead the process and do what we need to do.”