At least 3 brush fires reported in area close to Gaza Strip
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At least 3 brush fires reported in area close to Gaza Strip

Emergency services work to battle flames in Shokeda and Be’eri forests, apparently caused by incendiary balloons; no injuries reported

Illustrative. A firefighter extinguishing a fire in a field near the Gaza Strip that was sparked by a flaming object flown from the Palestinian enclave, on June 5, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)
Illustrative. A firefighter extinguishing a fire in a field near the Gaza Strip that was sparked by a flaming object flown from the Palestinian enclave, on June 5, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

At least three brush fires started Thursday in the area around the Gaza Strip, apparently sparked by incendiary balloons that were floated across the border, local officials said.

Firefighters worked to control the blazes, which broke out in the Shokeda and Be’eri forests close to the border with the Palestinian enclave.

There were no injuries or damage to property reported in the fires.

Over the past year Palestinians have launched waves of balloons carrying incendiaries, which have burned thousands of acres of Israeli farmland and countryside in the area around the Gaza Strip.

On Wednesday Palestinians marked Nakba Day, which commemorates the displacement of Palestinians from their homes following the creation of the State of Israel on May 15, 1948.

Some 10,000 Palestinians demonstrated along the security fence surrounding the Gaza Strip, with rioters burning tires, throwing rocks, setting off explosives and sending balloon-borne incendiary devices into southern Israel, starting at least nine fires.

The Gaza-based Sons of Zouari, which has been behind most of the balloon-based attacks on southern Israel in the past year, also threatened in a statement that the terror group would be “more active than ever” on Wednesday.

Israel responded with various riot-dispersal measures. According to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, some 65 Palestinians were wounded to varying degrees along the border throughout the day, one of them seriously.

Recent weeks have seen skyrocketing tensions in the Gaza Strip, following a massive two-day flare-up earlier this month between Israel and terror groups in the coastal enclave, in which terrorists fired nearly 700 rockets, mortar shells and anti-tank guided missiles at southern and central Israel, killing four people.

The military struck back, hitting over 300 targets linked with the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups, including several rocket-launching teams. Twenty-five Palestinians were killed in the fighting, most of them members of terror groups.

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