Two explosive balloons, apparently flown from Gaza, land in Israel
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Two explosive balloons, apparently flown from Gaza, land in Israel

Local residents say balloons have upped the tension in a region already on edge from frequent rocket fire

A bunch of balloons attached to an incendiary device is prepared to be flown into Israel, near the Israel-Gaza border east of Al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, January 22, 2020. (Ail Ahmed/ Flash90)
A bunch of balloons attached to an incendiary device is prepared to be flown into Israel, near the Israel-Gaza border east of Al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, January 22, 2020. (Ail Ahmed/ Flash90)

Two explosives-laden balloons, apparently launched from the Gaza Strip, landed in the Sha’ar Hanegev region on Sunday morning. One of the devices alighted in an agricultural field and the second in a greenhouse, according to the local regional council.

Police sappers arrived at the scene and neutralized the devices without casualties.

Local residents have expressed concern in recent days as the number of balloons coming over from Gaza has increased.

“It’s tense — people are more wary of traveling at night,” Adele Raemer, a resident of Kibbutz Nirim, told The Times of Israel. “Some people refrain from going out, but most are carrying on with their regular activity, but with heightened awareness.

“Personally,” she continued, “I am very aware that there could be another escalation tonight or tomorrow in response to the ‘deal of the century’ and have been reading announcements from Hamas that they will be renewing the marches and night disturbances, and continue sending explosives-laden balloons.”

She was referring to the long-awaited reveal Tuesday of US President Donald Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. The Palestinians have rejected the proposal and Israel has been bracing for widespread protests in the wake of its release.

On Sunday, an explosives-laden balloon was found hanging from a tree near a Chabad house in the southern city of Sderot. That incident came only a day after a bunch of balloons tied to a suspected bomb was found near Kibbutz Sde Boker.

A second batch of balloons connected to an incendiary device was discovered in the Ramat Negev Regional Council on Saturday. It was neutralized by sappers.

In recent days Israel has launched several airstrikes on Hamas installations in the Gaza Strip in response to the balloon attacks.

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