Large fires broke out Sunday in fields outside towns belonging to kibbutzim near the border with the Gaza Strip, apparently as a result of a flaming kite sent from the Palestinian enclave, according to fire and rescue services.
Firefighters worked with local residents to put out the blaze in the fields of the kibbutzim: Nir Am, Or Haner and Be’eri.
As a result of the fire, the southbound lane of the Route 34 highway was closed to traffic.
On Saturday, a blaze set off by Palestinian protesters along the Gaza border devastated a nature reserve inside Israel in what officials said was the worst day of fires since demonstrators in the Strip adopted the fire kite tactics in the last few months.
Arson investigators at the Carmia reserve said Saturday’s fire was most likely set by a fire kite, or possibly a balloon filled with chemicals that dripped flames along the area, Hadashot news reported at the time.
Some 2,000 to 3,000 dunams (500 to 740 acres) of fields and parts of a nature reserve adjacent to Kibbutz Carmia were destroyed. Officials at the Israel Nature and Parks Authority estimated that at least one third of the Carmia reserve had been destroyed. They said it was likely the flames had caused massive damage to both the flora and the fauna in the reserve.
In total, firefighters battled three large fires and several smaller ones along the Gaza Strip border on Saturday, all believed to have been started by incendiary kites flown from the coastal enclave. Residents worked alongside with firefighters and soldiers to try to contain the fires, which have become almost daily occurrences since the start of the “March of Return” protests along the border at the end of March.
During the protests, Gazans have flown hundreds of kites into Israel outfitted with Molotov cocktails and containers of burning fuel, setting fire to large swaths of land.
Officials said that since the start of the protests the kites had set over 270 fires, destroying some 25,000 dunam (6,200 acres), or more than a third of all the land adjacent to the Strip.
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. The IDF has also used drones to try and take down the kites.