Gaza Terror Balloon Shows Up in Be’er Sheva Backyard

YERUSHALAYIM -
kite fire
A firefighter attempts to extinguish a fire burning scrubland in an area where Palestinians have been causing blazes by flying kites and balloons loaded with flammable materials, on the Israeli side of the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, near kibbutz Nir Am, last month. (Reuters/Amir Cohen)

Police on Monday night were summoned to a street in one of the neighborhoods of Be’er Sheva in the wake of a terror balloon that landed in the backyard of a home. Police closed Ringelblum Street, where the balloon was found, and evacuated residents of the immediate area. Bomb squad officers removed the explosives that were attached to the balloons.

Police are investigating if the balloon was launched by Gaza Arab terrorists. Several weeks ago, Hamas said that it was expanding the range and explosive power of the balloons it dispatches from Gaza, to reach deeper into Israel and cause more fires. 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.”

A report on Hadashot News said that IDF forces in southern Israel were alerted to the possibility that Hamas would attempt to undertake a mass “quality” terror attack, in which the terror group attacks a high-profile target, attempting to take many lives at once. Among the possibilities is a mass Hamas invasion of a Jewish town near the Gaza border fence, and in recent days the army has conducted exercises in towns and increased security levels in the region.

In a new message to Gaza residents, the IDF urged them to “throw off the burden of Hamas” which was “taking advantage of them and destroying their lives.” In a video accompanying the message released on social media, Hamas agents are seen beating women, and also destroying the fruit stand of a Gaza City resident with whom they had a dispute. The resident later committed suicide, the video said.

“Hamas sends them every week to die on the Gaza border fence, as cannon fodder for its weekly riots,” the IDF says in the message. “They are using you as a human shield. Instead of investing the money it gets in creating employment opportunities, improving water and electricity delivery, and improve lives, Hamas is using it to take advantage of you and harming you with violence.”

Overnight Momday, security officials said they arrested 17 wanted security suspects in other areas in Yehudah and Shomron. The suspects were wanted for participating in rioting and throwing stones and firebombs that endangered Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers. Several of the suspects were also charged with belonging to Hamas. All were being questioned on their activities by security forces.