Two incendiary balloons found in yard of Jerusalem home

Police sappers called to Gilo, in capital’s southeast, to deal with suspicious objects; neighborhood adjoins West Bank

Balloon with suspected incendiary device found in Jerusalem's Gilo neighborhood on July 20, 2018. (Israel Police)
Balloon with suspected incendiary device found in Jerusalem's Gilo neighborhood on July 20, 2018. (Israel Police)

Police sappers were called to Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood Friday after two balloons attached to flammable material were found outside a family’s home.

Israel has been facing daily arson attacks using kites, balloons and condoms along its border with Gaza. But with Jerusalem almost 100 kilometers away from Gaza it is unlikely the balloons were launched from the coastal enclave. Police are currently investigating the incident.

Hadashot news reported that matches and flammable material were attached to the helium balloons, which landed in the southeastern neighborhood of the capital.

The balloons were discovered by four of the family’s children, Ynet news reported.

“I view this incident seriously and I have a strong suspicion that if it was a terror kite, our neighbors in the West Bank learned to make use of terror kites,” said Ofer Ayoubi, head of the local community administration. “I call on the prime minister and defense minister to work speedily to locate its source… so that we don’t have burning gardens and homes here in our neighborhood.”

Gilo lies adjacent to Beit Jala and Bethlehem in the Palestinian Authority.

Police reiterated a warning that people should keep away from any suspicious objects.

“The public should exercise the utmost caution with suspicious objects of any kind — kites or balloons — which may contain explosive or flammable material, and endanger public safety if they do not act responsibly,” the police statement read.

“Whenever a suspicious object is found, including seemingly ‘harmless’ objects like these, you should immediately call the police hotline by dialing 100,” the statement continued.

Police also warned people to remain at least 50 meters away from any suspicious object and that they should leave it for the experts to deal with.

Recent months have seen daily arson attacks from Gaza with incendiary kites and balloons that have burned thousands of acres of Israeli forests, farmland and brush. Some 2,500 acres of nature reserves and national parks have been destroyed.

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.

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