Flaming balloon from Gaza lands in preschool near children at play

No one hurt as kids are rushed away from flames; teacher says, ‘We were saved;’ Second incendiary device to hit school in a day

A man inspects where a fire balloon landed in the playground of kindergarten in the Sdot Negev Regional Council on July 17, 2018. (screen capture: Channel 10)
A man inspects where a fire balloon landed in the playground of kindergarten in the Sdot Negev Regional Council on July 17, 2018. (screen capture: Channel 10)

A balloon from Gaza carrying flaming materials landed in the yard of a preschool in an Israeli community near the border Tuesday as children played outside. A teacher managed to get the children inside and there were no injuries.

“We went out to the yard with the kids in the afternoon to play,” teacher Batsheva Baruchi told Channel 10 news. “After five minutes something burning and smoking fell on us from the sky. I immediately understood it was an incendiary balloon.”

Baruchi said she and other workers at the school in the Sdot Negev Regional Council herded the children into a safe room. “We were saved,” she said. “What if it had fallen next to one of the children?”

Police sappers were called to the scene. No damage was caused by the balloon.

While most kites and balloons flown into Israel in recent weeks have carried incendiary devices meant to burn Israeli fields and property, some have been attached to makeshift bombs.

A balloon loaded with incendiary material is flown towards Israel by Palestinians east of Gaza City on June 29, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

Shortly before the incident an Israeli drone conducted an airstrike near a group of Palestinians launching incendiary balloons into Israeli territory from the northern Gaza Strip, injuring two of them, according to the Hamas-linked Shehab news outlet.

The military confirmed that one of its aircraft carried out the strike.

Earlier in the day, a suspected incendiary device attached to a balloon landed on the grounds of an elementary school in the Eshkol Regional Council. The school was closed for summer vacation, so no kids were nearby when the balloon landed.

A picture taken on July 14, 2018, shows a smoke plume rising following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

Recent months have seen daily arson attacks from Gaza with incendiary kites and balloons that have burned thousands of acres of Israeli forests, farmland and brush. Some 2,500 acres of nature reserves and national parks have been destroyed.

Following a significant flareup in violence over the weekend and continued airborne arson attacks, Israel severely limited the movement of goods into the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom Crossing starting Tuesday and has threatened further action if the stream of kites and balloons does not stop.

Saturday saw some 200 rockets and mortar shells launched at Israel as the IDF carried out wide-ranging raids against terror targets across Gaza.

On Sunday, the IDF’s 162nd Armored Division launched an exercise simulating a war in the Gaza Strip, including the capture of Gaza City, which the military said was planned in advance and was not related to the weekend’s exchange of fire.

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