Israel Halts Gaza Fuel Shipments Monday After 13 Incendiary Balloon Fires

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

Thirteen fires broke out Monday as a result of incendiary balloons dispatched by Gaza terrorists – and in response, on Tuesday Israel cut off fuel supplies for the Gaza power plant. A shipment of diesel fuel that had been en route to Gaza was turned away at the Erez crossing early Tuesday.

Balloon attacks took place in numerous communities near the Gaza border, as Gaza terrorists continue to violate the understandings with Israel arrived at after May’s rocket attacks. Among other things, Hamas had promised to stop the balloon attacks, but since the understandings were put in place in mid-May, Gaza terrorists have dispatched multiple balloons nearly every day.

Among the fires Monday was one that damaged an IDF memorial near Be’er Marvah in the Besor region, and an outlook in memory of Assaf Sivoni, one of the 73 soldiers killed in the 1997 crash of an IDF helicopter.

One of the balloons landed and started a fire at the entrance of a kindergarten which, b’chasdei Shamayim, was empty at the time. No one was injured in any of the fires.

Just last Tuesday, Israel expanded the range which Gaza fishing vessels could ply off the coast, after having first reduced it and later preventing all Gaza ships from sailing – also because of the terror balloon attacks. 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.

Last week, Hamas deputy head Halal a-Haya 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.