Earlier this week, terrorists in the Gaza Strip sparked at least nine fires in southern Israel throughout Monday with balloon-borne incendiary devices flown over the border as tensions in the region heated up, Fire and Rescue Services investigators stated, the Times of Israel reported.
Firefighters from Fire and Rescue Services, the Israel Defense Forces, the Jewish National Fund and local communities have been battling brushfires throughout the day in the Eshkol and Sdot Negev regions of southern Israel.
Fire and Rescue Services investigators said they determined that at least nine fires in Eshkol were sparked by these balloon-based attacks. Another fire in Sdot Negev was also likely the result of arson, but this was still being checked, the investigators said.
The attacks drew harsh criticism from local government officials, who called on the government to take action.
Footage reportedly from Sderot this evening showing the heavy machine gun fire from Gaza. pic.twitter.com/UljYVSRhootake our poll - story continues below
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“The audacity of the terror groups to renew the terrorism of balloons and to burn our fields must be rooted out today. If it is not stopped today, we will find ourselves… [again] putting out fires and crying that our harvests have gone up in smoke,” the mayor of the Eshkol region, Gadi Yarkoni, said in a statement.
“I expect the government to act immediately to send a clear and unequivocal message to these terrorist organizations that they ought not continue with this despicable terrorism,” Yarkoni said.
Recent days have seen a major rise in tensions along the Gaza border, with the potential for renewed clashes between Israel and terror groups in the Strip following May’s 11-day conflict, known in Israel as Operation Guardian of the Walls. This has largely been driven by demands from Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza for Israel to allow additional funds and goods into the beleaguered enclave. Jerusalem has refused unless Hamas releases two Israeli civilians and the remains of two soldiers from captivity.
There appeared to be a breakthrough in the stalled indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas last week, when Qatar and the United Nations announced that they had created a new mechanism for moving aid into the Gaza Strip that Defense Minister Benny Gantz said would prevent the money from reaching Hamas.
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