After eight fires broke out in Israel’s south, army announces move following further reduction of Gaza fishing zone
Noa Landau, Almog Ben Zikri | Jun. 12, 2019 | 10:09 PM

The Israeli army announced Wednesday a maritime blockade on the Gaza Strip “until further notice,” after airborne firebombs launched from Gaza ignited eight fires in the country’s south.

According to Israeli firefighting services, five fires broke out in the Eshkol Regional Council, along the Gaza border, where two other firebombs exploded over greenhouses. Two other fires broke out in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council and one in Netivot, also close to the border with Gaza.

By late Wednesday, all fires had been brought under control, Israeli firefighters said.

>> At odds with military, Netanyahu uses Gaza fishing zone for collective punishment | Analysis

“We are worried about the increase in the arson terror and about the damage it’s causing to our nature and our agriculture,” Eshkol Regional Council head Gadi Yarkoni said. “This is the second year that we’re hearing that ‘this terror must stop,’ but meanwhile it continues. It is becoming a regular part of our lives,” he concluded.

On Tuesday, seven fires were ignited by firebombs in Israeli border communities, after which Israel announced a further reduction in the Gaza fishing zone to six nautical miles.

Israel has been tailoring restrictions on the size of Gaza’s fishing zone in which Israel allows fishermen to operate in response to firebombs. In late May, Coordinator of the Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) commander Major General Kamil Abu Rukon announced the Gaza fishing area would be expanded to 15 nautical miles (11 km), in a move described as “part of the civilian policy to prevent a humanitarian deterioration in the Gaza Strip.”

The statement added that the step was taken “as part of a policy differentiating between terrorism and the uninvolved population,” and that any deviation from the zone “will be handled appropriately by the security forces.” Four days later, however, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the army to shrink the fishing zone back to 10 nautical miles (18.5 km), after airborne firebombs had been launched from Gaza toward Israel.
Gaza factions make incendiary balloons sent to Israel more lethal YNET

The new method adopted by the terror groups includes soaking slow-burning fuse in explosive liquids, causing balloons to drip fireballs as they fly, creating fires in multiple locations
Matan Tzuri|Published: 06.13.19
The terror groups in Gaza appear to have found a new method of launching incendiary balloons in order to ignite as many fires as possible on Israeli territory, thereby maximizing the damage.

The balloon terrorism has seen a gradual increase over the recent weeks with nearly dozens of fires started on a daily basis by incendiary balloons flown from the Hamas-ruled enclave into nearby Israeli communities.

The latest upgrade in what has become an entire arsenal of terror tools for the Palestinian factions in Gaza is to soak a slow-burning fuse in explosive liquids and attach it to an incendiary balloon. The balloon drips fireballs as it flies, creating several ignition points from just one device.

The new method has been discovered by Israeli military after no remnants of actual balloons had been recovered at several ignition zones in the Gaza border region. For instance, on Tuesday there were three fires in three different locations (relatively close to each other) of Kissufim Forest in the Eshkol Regional Council, but the firefighters found no traces of physical balloons in the affected area.

“The Palestinians see this upgrade as a success story. This threat should not be taken lightly, and although it sounds non-threatening, it is certainly dangerous and can be lethal,” said one of the security coordinators of the communities bordering the Strip.

On Wednesday evening, the IDF took the rare step of completely closing the Gaza Strip’s offshore waters to Palestinian fishermen until further notice in response to incendiaries launched into Israel in recent days.

Soon afterward, Palestinian militants fired a rocket into southern Israel from Gaza that was intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defense system, the Israeli military said.

No Palestinian group claimed responsibility for the early Thursday rocket fire, which apparently was a response to the sealing off the fishing zone.,7340,L-5524642,00.html#autoplay