Olmert: Threats From Balloon Terror Attacks ‘Overstated’

YERUSHALAYIM -
Incendiary balloons with a Palestinian flag are seen in the sky during a protest near the Gaza border, southern Gaza Strip. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Balloon terror attacks have been increasing in recent days, and on Tuesday an image widely circulated on social media showed what appeared to be a cluster of black balloons resting under a bush outside the IDF’s Tzrifin military base in central Israel. There was no official report or confirmation of the presence of the cluster or its defusing.

The continued dispatching of terror balloons will not be tolerated, Israeli officials have said, but according to former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert – who recently finished serving a sentence after being convicted on charges of bribery and other crimes – the security establishment was taking the issue of terror balloons too seriously. Speaking on Radio 101.5FM, Olmert said that the balloon issue was “being blown out of proportion.

“Over the years we have exaggerated the ‘awful’ threat in the south, whether it is regarding balloons or terror kites, and other items that are not pleasant or desirable. The government has definitely overstated the threat from these things. The most that usually happens is a brush fire, but the total damage from these attacks is really negligible, and almost no one has been injured,” Olmert said.

The balloon issue is certainly not worth going to war over – and neither are Gaza terrorist rocket attacks, Olmert said. “I know that there are many residents of the south who were not expecting to hear comments like this,” he said. “But these balloons are not a strategic threat against Israel. Israel has all the capabilities – military and technological – to overcome this problem without making noise, and without causing anyone to feel it is a major threat. That is how I conducted my government as prime minister. You don’t go to war over balloons, or even Kassam rockets,” he said.