Balloons Cause Fires After IDF CoS Visit to Gaza Border Area

kite fire
A firefighter attempts to extinguish a fire burning scrubland near Kibbutz Nir Am. (Reuters/Amir Cohen, File)

At least two fires broke out Tuesday afternoon in the Gaza border area, after Gaza Arab terrorists sent incendiary balloons over the border fence and into Israeli forests. Firefighters were working to put out the blazes in the Be’eri Forest and in a neighborhood of Sderot. Terrorists also dispatched balloons on Sunday, causing several fires in the Gaza border area.

On Monday, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi and top generals toured the Gaza border area in the wake of recent events there. Over the weekend, IDF forces eliminated several Gaza terrorists who attempted to cross the border fence.

One incident occurred Sunday morning. Soldiers identified a man who was approaching the fence and appeared to be armed. They warned him to turn back, but instead he pulled out a weapon and began shooting. Soldiers were able to shoot back and directly hit him. After the incident, Israeli tanks opened fire on a Hamas outpost near the border.

The incident came a day after IDF soldiers were able to prevent what would likely have been a major terror attack when they eliminated a gang of four Gaza terrorists who had succeeded in crossing the border fence. Soldiers tracked them and called in reinforcements, and opened fire on the terrorists. All were eliminated. The terrorists were found to be carrying a large arsenal of weapons, including machine guns, knives, and hand grenades. Soldiers also found a medical kit, apparently for use in the event that one of the terrorists was injured.

In an interview, Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz said that Israel was ready for an extensive action in Gaza if necessary. “We cannot rely on Hamas, it is a murderous group that is responsible for many terror attacks. We are working constantly to reduce the threat of Hamas, such as by destroying their terror tunnels. We currently respond to every security incident, but there is the possibility that we could begin a campaign there. This would likely involve missile attacks by Hamas on Israel, but our campaign would be to force a surrender of Hamas.”

A major military exercise is set to begin in southern Israel Tuesday night. Lasting 24 hours, the exercise will take place in Eilat and its surroundings, with activity throughout the western Arava. The IDF said that the drill had been planned long in advance of current events.