Drone footage released Monday showed how hundreds of acres of one of the most scenic areas of southern Israel have been reduced to burned, blackened wasteland by firebomb-laden kites flown across the border by Palestinians.
By the end of winter, the Be’eri Crater Nature Reserve is normally blanketed with green grass interspersed with red anemones. The park’s trees, grass and ground are home to many species of wildlife.
However, hundreds of kites carrying flaming material have been flown across the border by Gazan Palestinians in the past few weeks, and photos show the entire area has been reduced to blackened stubble.
On Sunday alone a further 50 acres of the nature reserve were consumed by fire started by the kites.
Rafi Bavian, security officer of the Sdot Negev Regional Council, said that the plants would eventually grow back, but he mourned the destruction of wildlife.
“We are sure that time will do its part, the rain will return and the flowering will begin again,” he told Ynet news site. “But to see the crater area burned like this, and to think of all the animals burned to death is heartbreaking.”
He explained that the crater is between Kibbutz Alumim and Kibbutz Be’eri and the local residents do their part to try and save the crater each time a fire breaks out.
“Residents from all the communities join the effort and succeed in stopping the spread of the fire,” he said. “But the damage has already been done.”
The flying of kites carrying burning material into Israel has become a widely adopted tactic during the weekly “March of Return” clashes on the Gaza border, which Israel accuses the Hamas terror group of orchestrating and using as a cover to carry out attacks and attempt to breach the border fence.
The violent demonstrations were meant to end on May 15, but Hamas leaders have said they want them to continue.
In the past month, at least 300 attack kites have been flown across the border, starting hundreds of fires and causing an estimated tens of millions of shekels worth of damages.
Military planners have begun implementing new measures to combat the assaults, including options drawn from the IDF’s responses to rocket launches and other terror attacks.