American Firefighters Arrive in Israel to Help Battle Terror Fires

YERUSHALAYIM -
kite fire
A fire burns in scrubland on the Israeli side of the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, near Kibbutz Or HaNer. (Reuters/Amir Cohen)

Over the past four months, Hamas terrorists who use balloons and kites to set terror fires in southern Israel have burned some 30,000 dunams of farm and forest land in the region, Hadashot News revealed Wednesday night. A helicopter survey showed the large swaths where vegetation has been completely destroyed. Over 1,100 fires have been set, and damages are estimated to be in the area of NIS 30 million. Several ceasefires have failed to rein in the Hamas terror campaign, which was in full swing on Tuesday, when firefighters battled 19 fires in the Gaza border area.

On Tuesday, ten American volunteer firefighters joined Israeli forces in fighting the balloon and kite terror fires. The volunteers, all professional firefighters, hailed from Los Angeles, Florida, Maryland, Texas and Michigan. On Tuesday alone, the firefighters helped Israeli forces battle ten blazes. One of the firefighters, a senior member of the staff  in his home town in Florida, was offered the opportunity to help fight the giant wildfire in northern California – leading and training a team there, for top pay – but turned down the opportunity in order to volunteer to help out in Israel, said officials of the Jewish Federation of North America, which helped organize the event;

IDF soldiers overnight Tuesday seized weapons that were to be used in terror attacks. Soldiers, working with police, discovered a cache of weapons in Arab villages in Gush Etzion. In a statement, the army said that such weapons were used in terror attacks as well as for criminal activity, and that security forces were determined to seize all weapons that were being held illegally by all people, in order to better protect all Israelis and residents of Palestinian Authority-controlled areas, who are also under threat by terrorists and criminals.

Overnight Tuesday, security officials said they arrested 9 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.