Despite a recent uptick in Gaza-launched incendiary balloon attacks, overall there has been a significant drop in the number of fires caused by them during 2019, Israeli authorities said on Wednesday.
According to data released by security forces, firefighters and the Nature and Parks Authority, this year has so far seen an average of two fires a day and 10 during flare-ups, compared to 8-10 and 30 during flare-ups last year.
The IDF has been working at reducing the Gaza-based arson attacks by deploying drones to cut the cords of the balloons or intercept them, and by firing warning shots at groups of Palestinians preparing the incendiary devices, before they can launch them at southern Israel.
In recent months, the IDF has also restricted the fishing zone off the Gaza coast as a punitive measure against the arson.
In mid-June, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi met with the heads of the Gaza communities and explained the direct connection between calm on the border and fewer fires:
“The reduction in the number of balloons and the decrease in the number of violent incidents on the fence is not coincidental,” Kochavi was quoted by Mako as saying, adding that while the IDF “prefers to give this arrangement a chance…we cannot let balloon terrorism continue.”