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In English-language video, Netanyahu enlists parents in PR battle over Gaza

PM asks ‘every mother and every father’ to hug their children and then tell others of the incendiary balloon that landed in the yard of a preschool

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks in a video statement on February 20, 2018. (Screen capture/Facebook)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks in a video statement on February 20, 2018. (Screen capture/Facebook)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted a video to social media on Monday night asking parents around the world to spread the story of an incendiary balloon from Gaza that landed in the yard of an Israeli preschool as children played outside last Tuesday.

Netanyahu said the “beautiful children were nearly burned alive,” and were saved by a teacher leading them inside to safety.

“What does it say about the terrorists who run Gaza that they try to burn Israeli preschoolers alive?” asks Netanyahu in the English-language video. “This is what Israel defends itself against every single day.”

The prime minister says those watching should tell their children that they love them and will always protect them, and then call another parent to tell them the story.

The balloon from Gaza carrying flaming materials landed in an Israeli community near the border as children played outside the perschool. 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.”

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)

Baruchi said she and other workers at the preschool in the Sdot Negev region 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.

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

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.

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

Palestinians in Gaza have launched many hundreds of kites, balloons and inflated latex condoms bearing flammable materials, and occasionally explosives, into Israeli territory in recent months, sparking near-daily fires that have burned thousands of acres of farmland, parks and forests.

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