13 fires sparked in southern Israel by Gazan balloons
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13 fires sparked in southern Israel by Gazan balloons

Two blazes still raging Monday evening at Alumim Forest and adjacent to Nir Am Reservoir, firefighters say

  • Firefighters battle a brushfire in southern Israel near the Gaza border that was started by an incendiary device launched from the Gaza Strip on June 24, 2019. (Yankele Grossfeld/Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council)
    Firefighters battle a brushfire in southern Israel near the Gaza border that was started by an incendiary device launched from the Gaza Strip on June 24, 2019. (Yankele Grossfeld/Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council)
  • IDF soldiers help firefighters battle brushfires near the Gaza border started by an incendiary device launched from the Gaza Strip, on June 24, 2019. (Yankele Grossfeld/Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council)
    IDF soldiers help firefighters battle brushfires near the Gaza border started by an incendiary device launched from the Gaza Strip, on June 24, 2019. (Yankele Grossfeld/Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council)
  • File: Firefighters battle a brushfire in southern Israel near the Gaza border that was started by an incendiary device launched from the Gaza Strip on June 24, 2019. (Yankele Grossfeld/Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council)
    File: Firefighters battle a brushfire in southern Israel near the Gaza border that was started by an incendiary device launched from the Gaza Strip on June 24, 2019. (Yankele Grossfeld/Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council)
  • Firefighters battle a brushfire in southern Israel near the Gaza border that was started by an incendiary device launched from the Gaza Strip on June 24, 2019. (Yankele Grossfeld/Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council)
    Firefighters battle a brushfire in southern Israel near the Gaza border that was started by an incendiary device launched from the Gaza Strip on June 24, 2019. (Yankele Grossfeld/Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council)
  • A firefighters battles a brushfire in southern Israel near the Gaza border that was started by an incendiary device launched from the Gaza Strip on June 24, 2019. (Yankele Grossfeld/Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council)
    A firefighters battles a brushfire in southern Israel near the Gaza border that was started by an incendiary device launched from the Gaza Strip on June 24, 2019. (Yankele Grossfeld/Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council)
  • IDF soldiers help firefighters battle brushfires near the Gaza border started by an incendiary device launched from the Gaza Strip, on June 24, 2019. (Yankele Grossfeld/Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council)
    IDF soldiers help firefighters battle brushfires near the Gaza border started by an incendiary device launched from the Gaza Strip, on June 24, 2019. (Yankele Grossfeld/Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council)

At least 13 brush fires were sparked in southern Israel on Monday by balloon-borne incendiary devices launched from the Gaza Strip, the local fire service said.

Two fires, at Alumim Forest and near the Nir Am Reservoir, have not yet been brought under control, firefighters said Monday evening.

According to a statement, five of the fires were sparked in the Eshkol Regional Council area southeast of Gaza, three in the Sha’ar Hanegev area northeast of the Strip, and five in the Sdot Negev region, east of Gaza.

All 13 fires were found by investigators to have been started by these balloon-borne arson devices, the fire department said.

Tensions with Gaza have been steadily rising in recent weeks amid a spike of incendiary balloon attacks, including some that carried explosive devices that detonated in the air or on the ground inside Israeli territory.

Earlier this month there was a fresh surge in violence, including two nights of rocket attacks and retaliatory Israeli air force strikes.

Since March 2018, the Hamas terror group has led regular mass protests along the Israel-Gaza border, with Israel accusing it of using the often violent demonstrations as cover to attack troops and the security fence.

Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on Gaza after Hamas violently seized control of the coastal Palestinian enclave in 2007 from the Palestinian Authority. Israel has said the restrictions are necessary to prevent the smuggling of weapons and war materiel.

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