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IDF observation balloon crashes in Gaza under disputed circumstances

Military officials deny device shot down by Palestinian gunmen, say no ‘significant’ information breach; Palestinian media says it was collected by Hamas members

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

A military observation balloon that landed in the Palestinian city of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, June 17, 2022 (Screenshot: Twitter)
A military observation balloon that landed in the Palestinian city of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, June 17, 2022 (Screenshot: Twitter)

A military observation balloon crashed in the northern Gaza Strip on Friday afternoon, the Israel Defense Forces said.

According to Palestinian media reports, the balloon landed in the city of Beit Hanoun, and was collected by members of the Hamas terror group.

The IDF said there were no fears of a “significant” information breach, indicating that Hamas may be able to obtain some intelligence. The device is equipped with various sensors and cameras.

The Palestinian reports claimed the balloon was shot down by armed Palestinians, but military officials said this was not the case. The IDF said the balloon disconnected from its anchor for unknown reasons.

During the incident, an alert on an incoming projectile was activated in an open area close to the Erez border crossing in northern Gaza, but the IDF said it was caused by warning shots fired by Israeli troops.

Palestinian media reports said the warning shots were an attempt to prevent Palestinians from approaching the area of the crash. The IDF did not immediately elaborate on why troops fired in the area.

The army said there were no additional instructions to residents of southern Israel following the incident.

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