by: Ilse Strauss
Tuesday, 11 August 2020 | Plumes of soot and ashes stifling the air. A blanket of black smoke hanging over pockets of scorched land. Vegetation burned to cinders. The terrifying boom of balloon-borne explosives detonating mid-air.
This was the scene in southern Israel yesterday as fire fighters and volunteers scrambled to bring more than a dozen blazes under control in and around Israeli communities after terrorists in Gaza launched waves of air-born incendiary devices floating on the Mediterranean Sea breeze into Israel.
No injuries were reported, but nearly 100 acres of nature reserve was destroyed.
The rash of terror arson continued this morning, with airborne incendiary devises sparking two blazes near communities in southern Israel.
Jerusalem responded by shutting the Kerem Shalom commercial border crossing, allowing only fuel, food and humanitarian goods into the coastal enclave “until further notice.”
“The decision was made following security deliberations and in light of repeated terror attacks committed by terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip against Israeli citizens, which is a violation of the Israeli sovereignty,” the Coordinator of Government Activity in the Territories (COGAT) explained the decision.
The volatile day is but the most recent installment in a perpetual cycle of clashes intercepted by tense calm. Calm gave way to clashes last Sunday when the Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted a rocket fired from Gaza, and the Israel Defense Forces [IDF] responded by striking several Hamas targets in Gaza.
On Thursday, the terrorists struck again, this time launching a cluster of balloons attached to incendiary devices into Israel, eliciting another round of Israeli retaliatory strikes on Hamas terror infrastructure.
The round of back-and-forth continued three days later when Israelis working on the Gaza security fence came under fire. The attack continued on the IDF soldiers dispatched to evacuate the workers. No injuries were reported.
While terrorists in the Gaza Strip launched incendiary devices across the border yesterday, Hamas also sent Israel a missive in the terror group’s native tongue, firing eight missiles toward the Mediterranean Sea. A Hamas source told AFP that the barrage was a “message” to its Jewish neighbors that the terror group “would not remain silent” and that calm on the border will soon give way to another round of conflict.
Since Israel’s disengagement from Gaza in 2005, Hamas—the terror organization ruling the coastal enclave—has employed every terror tactic in its quest to annihilate Israel. However, instead of wielding its substantial military advantage to topple Hamas’s dictatorial reign and retake Gaza, Israel worked diligently to provide an answer to every terror tactic that would maintain peace and keep its civilians safe. To put a halt to kidnapping and infiltration attempts, Israel erected a security fence. When Hamas sent rockets raining down, Israel developed the Iron Dome. And then, when terror went underground and Hamas dug tunnels to send its terrorists underneath the border fence to maim and kill, Israel constructed a state-of-the-art underground barrier.
In May 2018, Hamas added another tactic to its terror arsenal: sending droves of balloons—many brightly colored, heart-shaped and adorned with cute cartoon characters to lure innocent children—loaded with Molotov cocktails, detonators and explosive devises over the Israeli border to burn up thousands of acres of agricultural fields, forests and nature reserves.
The toys-into-terror strategy has proven highly effective, especially during the hot, dry summer months and especially in the south of Israel where the majority of Israelis make a living from agriculture. During the summer of 2018, Hamas’s drove of terror balloons burned up more than 4,000 acres of agricultural lands and caused Israel tens of millions of shekels in damage. On some days, fire fighters battled up to 30 blazes. Crops had been lost, irrigation systems melted and wildlife killed, reducing parts of southern Israel to ashes, charred skeletons of trees and the acrid stink of soot.
In the nearly two years since, Hamas’s balloon-borne explosive device strategy has waxed and waned, but never resumed with the ferocity of the summer of 2018—until yesterday.
Community leaders on the Gaza border—the horror of two summers ago fresh in their minds—have demanded that the Israeli powers that be make every effort to prevent a repeat of the destruction. For its part, the IDF has its hands full with the threat of Iran and Hezbollah on the northern border and will undoubtable act to keep this round of conflict from snowballing into all-out war.
Posted on August 11, 2020
Source: (Bridges for Peace, August 11, 2020)
Photo Credit: MinoZig/wikipedia.org
Photo License: wikipedia.org
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