An arson balloon was found on the side of a street in the central Israeli city of Rishon Lezion on Friday, the latest in a series of apparent incendiary balloon attacks that have spread from the Gaza border area to Jerusalem and the Tel Aviv metropolitan region.
The balloon bore Arabic writing and was spotted on Sprinzak Street near the center of the city, clinging to a roadside railing. Police sappers were called to the scene and neutralized the incendiary device attached to the balloon.
The Israel Police issued a statement Friday in the wake of the incident urging Israelis to call the police at the emergency hotline 100 if they see a suspicious object, and under no circumstances to approach such balloons. Many of the balloons launched from Gaza in recent months have had small improvised explosives attached to them.
The latest incident comes a day after police were called in to respond to incendiary balloons in both Jerusalem and the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam.
In Jerusalem, a woman found the balloons in the Valley of the Cross, near the Knesset, collected them and took them with her to her next destination before calling the cops. Sappers took the balloons and swept the area where they were found for any other such devices.
Sappers were also called in to handle a balloon in Bat Yam. No further information was available on that incident.
The tactic of sending airborne incendiary devices into Israeli territory has been used almost daily by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip since the start of weekly border protests there in March.
It was not clear where these latest balloons originated from.
Gaza protesters have launched hundreds of incendiary kites and balloons into Israel, sparking fires that have destroyed forests, burned crops, and killed livestock. Over 7,000 acres of land have been burned, causing millions of shekels in damages, according to Israeli officials.
There have been a number of incidents in which West Bank Palestinians appear to have copied the tactic, sending devices into Israeli communities and West Bank settlements.
On Wednesday, police sappers were called to neutralize an incendiary device attached to a balloon that landed in a construction site for a kindergarten near Emek Refaim Street, the main road in the upscale German Colony neighborhood in Jerusalem.
Two days earlier police neutralized a similar incendiary balloon discovered in the courtyard of a home in the West Bank settlement of Givat Ze’ev, just north of the capital.
Last week a suspected incendiary balloon was discovered on a highway close to the Modiin industrial zone in the center of the country.