IDF Tells Gazans: Cut Balloon Terror or Cut Electricity

YERUSHALAYIM -
Palestinians prepare balloons that will be attached to flammable material to be launched into Israel, east of Jabalia, in the Gaza Strip, on Tuesday. (Hassan Jedi/Flash90)

Israel continued to withhold diesel fuel from Gaza Wednesday, as it continued its sanctions against Hamas over the continued terror attacks from Gaza. On Tuesday, 20 fires broke out in Israel due to the incendiary balloons dispatched by Gaza terrorists. It was the largest number of fires that broke out in one day in at least three months, officials said.

Between 75 and 85 tankers of diesel fuel enter Gaza each week, the IDF coordinator for activities in the territory, Kamil Abu-Rukun, said in a social media message in Arabic directed at Gaza residents. “The fuel means more hours of electricity each day,” he wrote. “It is the terrorists who are preventing you from getting this fuel and this electricity.”

Earlier, Hamas top terrorist Yahya Sinwar’s deputy, Halil al-Haya, warned of the “dire consequences” of the continued holding back of the fuel. “The game of expanding and reducing the area where fishermen can operate and allowing or halting the fuel shipments is a violation of the understandings, and places them in great danger. This is likely to lead to tragedy.” The Gaza Balloon Committee on Tuesday said in a statement that it was restarting its terror activity “because of the Israeli violations.”

Israel has indeed expanded and reduced the fishing vessel range and halted fuel shipments in response to terror activity from Gaza. Just last Tuesday, Israel expanded the range which Gaza fishing vessels could ply off the coast, after having reduced it and later preventing all Gaza ships from sailing – also because of the balloon terror 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.

Israeli firefighters worked nearly around the clock Tuesday putting out fires started by incendiary devices attached to balloons. At least three fires broke out in the Kissufim Forest, and on Tuesday night a fire broke out near homes in a town in the Eshkol regional council. The fire was put out by security personnel, and there were no injuries or damage. Gaza reports said that three terrorists were injured by IDF fire, but the army did not confirm this.

Eshkol Regional Council head Gadi Yarkoni said that “the containment policy the army has instituted has brought us and sustained the balloon terror. We are now entering the summer season. We will not allow our children to be forced to deal with smoke and fire during this season. No citizen would agree to living like this, but because of the army’s policies there is a whole part of the country that is subjected to this.”