Balloon-borne bomb explodes over Gaza-area school, sending kids to shelters

No injuries in incident, but several reportedly suffering from anxiety; suspected airborne explosive found outside a second school in the southern city

Illustrative: A balloon carrying an incendiary device is flown out of the Gaza Strip on May 31, 2019 (Hassan Jedi/Flash90)
Illustrative: A balloon carrying an incendiary device is flown out of the Gaza Strip on May 31, 2019 (Hassan Jedi/Flash90)

A number of balloon-borne incendiary devices exploded Thursday over Israeli communities near the Gaza border, including one that detonated above a school.

Students at the elementary school in the southern city of Sderot were rushed to bomb shelters, according to Hebrew-language media.

Nobody was physically hurt, but several people were reportedly suffering from anxiety.

A second suspected explosive device was found outside another school in Sderot.

Also Thursday, an airborne explosive detonated over communities in the Sdot Negev region, which borders the Gaza Strip. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

The balloon launches came despite a report earlier in the week that Gaza balloon-launching cells would cease fire.

The al-Quds daily reported Tuesday, citing an “on-the-ground source,” that terror factions in Gaza had decided to halt the launching of balloon-borne explosive devices from the Gaza Strip into Israel. The report came less than a day after an Egyptian security delegation concluded a visit to Gaza, where it met Hamas terror group officials and toured the border region between the coastal enclave and Egypt.

The report said that the leaders of the balloon launching units, which are believed to be affiliated with various factions, made the decision.

The past several weeks have seen a marked uptick in the flying of balloon-borne explosive devices from Gaza into Israel, as well as rocket launches from the Strip.

Palestinians prepare incendiary balloons near the city of Jabalia in the Gaza Strip, June 25, 2019. (Hassan Jedi/Flash90)

The Lebanese pro-Hezbollah Al-Akhbar newspaper reported earlier on Tuesday, citing unnamed sources in Palestinian terror groups, that the Egyptian delegation had conveyed a message from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Hamas in which he demanded “a return to calm.”

The sources told the daily that Netanyahu’s message, which the Egyptian delegation received from Israeli security officials in Tel Aviv on Sunday, included a threat that Israel would “deliver a major blow to Hamas with American and international cover” if calm does not resume.

Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.

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