Terror Balloon Reaches Bat Yam

YERUSHALAYIM -
The incendiary balloon that landed in Bat Yam, Thursday. (Police Spokesman)

As concern grows over the spread to other parts of Israel of the tactic used by Gaza terrorists of incendiary balloons and kites to start fires, officials in the coastal city of Bat Yam shut down a main thoroughfare Thursday afternoon – after a terror balloon was discovered on the ground.

Large numbers of police massed on Bar Ilan Street, in the town just south of Tel Aviv in the center of the country. Police said in a statement that the situation was under control and requested that the public stay away from the site. Images of the balloon were broadcast by Channel 20.

The balloon was marked with an Arabic-language logo, similar to one borne by balloons that were found in Gush Etzion two weeks ago. One of those balloons exploded in mid-air over Kibbutz Rosh Tzurim, while the second landed without exploding. No injuries or damage were reported in that incident.

Channel 20 also reported Thursday that a terror balloon was discovered Wednesday night in the community of Nof Ayalon, located near Modiin.

Meanwhile in Yerushalayim, police were dealing with another terror balloon – this one discovered just a few hundred meters from the Knesset. A pedestrian reported the balloon, which had landed just a few minutes earlier. Bomb squad members were able to defuse it without incident.

On Wednesday, a terror balloon was found at a construction site in the Emek Refaim (German Colony) neighborhood of Yerushalayim, on the ground, after the helium in the balloon apparently dissipated. The explosive material was defused by bomb squad workers. It was the third such balloon found in the Yerushalayim area this week; earlier this week, terror balloons were found in the town of Givat Ze’ev, located next to the city, and in Beit Horon, in the Binyamin region about 10 kilometers  (6.2 miles) away from Yerushalayim. Two other balloons were found in the city proper last week, and one was found in Modiin.

Also Thursday, a large fire was burning out of control in the Nachal Shikma forest, south of Ashkelon. Large numbers of firefighters were at the scene working to bring it under control, aided by a plane attempting to douse it from the air. The fire was likely caused by a terror balloon, firefighters said.