Hamas: Israeli Farmers Setting Fire to Their Own Fields

A fire at a field in Nachal Oz caused by kites flown by Palestinians, near the border with the Gaza Strip. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Hamas deputy head Halal a-Haya on Thursday called on the international community to halt the Israeli “retreat from the understandings” between Israel and the terror group. The Israeli response to balloon terror is “misplaced,” the Hamas terrorist said, because Hamas is not the one burning down Israeli forests and fields.

“We hold the occupation responsible for the backsliding in the enactment of the understandings between us, and they are using a false narrative to do so,” he said in an interview with Arab media, Kan News reported. “They are responsible for the balloon terror. The balloons are being dispatched by children and private individuals,” not Hamas – and they do not contain explosives or incendiary devices, either. “We know that at least some of the fires are due to extreme heat, and are being set by farmers who want to get compensation from the government,” a-Haya said.

A-Haya called on the “international peace negotiators” to force Israel to stop its retaliatory attacks on Hamas. Egyptian reports said that a delegation from Cairo was set to arrive in Gaza on Thursday or Friday to evaluate the situation, Kan News said.

The IDF struck Hamas targets early Thursday, after a Wednesday night in which Israeli firefighters battled eight blazes, caused by balloon terror attacks. More incendiary balloons were found Thursday before they could be activated. The IDF imposed a naval closure on all of Gaza Wednesday night in response to the fires. Gaza terrorists fired a rocket at Israeli targets, and the IDF retaliated by hitting Hamas targets.

Israel had agreed to increase the range fishing vessels could ply to 15 nautical miles as part of the understandings negotiated by U.N. and Egyptian mediators that led to the end of Gaza rocket attacks against southern Israel several weeks ago. Hamas and Islamic Jihad fired some 700 rockets at southern Israel during those attacks. Part of those understandings entailed an end to incendiary balloon attacks.