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Palestinian protestors are sending flaming helium balloons into Israeli territory during the “March of Return” protests in Gaza, following similar stories last month of burning “incendiary kites” being flown and injuring protestors.
The tactic has resulted in thousands of acres of valuable farm land and nature preserves being burned, the Times of Israel reported.
The helium balloons outfitted with flaming material attached to a long string have been used for at least the last month and a half, but the tactic has more recently picked up traction. Approximately 4,300 acres of land have already been burned as a result of more than 250 fires during the last two months from both balloons and kites.
For now, the Israeli military says that it has yet to come up with a way to combat the threat of the flaming objects. Originally, a pilot program utilizing drones to shoot down the objects was in practice, but ultimately deemed a failure, Israel’s Kan TV said. Instead, Israel must resort to preparedness and a rapid response when fires do break out.
The biggest problem, authorities said, is that the fires have destroyed valuable farm land along with more than half of Isreal’s nature reserves. Farmers are tasked with digging out borders surrounding the fires in order to starve the flames out and save some of the land, and around 2,470 acres of parks and natural reserves have also been destroyed just in the last few weeks.
On Saturday, some 74 acres of the Carmia nature reserve burned in one of the largest individual fires since the start of the protests. The damage claimed one-third of the park’s total land area, and Israel’s Hadashot news reported that the blaze was likely started by a fire balloon.
Approximately 620 acres of Jewish National Fund forests have also burned, according to a spokesperson for the organization.
The fires will likely cost Israel millions of dollars in damages, with the Tax Authority estimating that the farmland alone will need more than $1.4 million to recover. The money will be paid out from the government’s fund for damage caused by terrorist activity.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also announced that the government would withhold funds from the Palestinian Authority to cover the costs. The decision was met with some criticism by analysts who pointed out that the PA does not control the Gaza Strip, and punishing the PA for Hamas’ actions would likely encourage Hamas to continue with its fire-enduing tactics rather than stopping them.
Egyptian mediators stepped in to broker a cease-fire between Israel and militant groups in Gaza after a week of escalated tensions threatened to escalate into a full-blown conflict. The site of an almost destroyed Islamic military base after it was attacked by an Israeli warplane in the Southern Gaza Strip on May 30, 2018.
Official in Southern Command says Hamas, Islamic Jihad improved rocket-launching tactics during Tuesday barrage by firing from underground; Israel ‘closest to war’ since 2014 Islamic Jihad members guard outside the funeral of a group militiama, Hussein al-Amour, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, on May 27, 2018. Al-Amour was killed during an Israeli strike .
Israeli forces killed a 21-year old Palestinian woman, a volunteer paramedic, in Gaza yesterday:
A young Palestinian woman was shot dead by Israeli soldiers near the Gaza border fence on Friday, in another day of protests and violence, Palestinian medical sources said.
Razan al-Najjar, 21, was shot near Khan Yunis in the south of the territory, health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said, bringing the toll of Gazans killed by Israeli fire since the end of March to 123.
According to Qudra, Najjar was a volunteer with the ministry, wearing the white uniform of a medic when she was shot in the chest.
Targeting medical personnel is strictly prohibited even in war, and it is nothing less than criminal to gun down a paramedic while she is trying to assist others. All of the illegal shootings have been outrageous and excessive, but the killing of this young woman seems particularly perverse and absolutely indefensible. Ms. Najjar’s killing is just the latest in a series of illegal shootings of unarmed Palestinians in Gaza. As the report indicates, hers is the 123rd fatality from Israeli attacks on the protesters.
When we met her at a protest camp in Khan Younis last month, she said her father was proud of what she did.
“We have one goal,” she said, “to save lives and evacuate people. And to send a message to the world: Without weapons, we can do anything.”
Ms. Najjar was helping to tend to the many thousands of Palestinians that are being injured in the Gaza protests when she was shot to death. She posed no threat to anyone. How could she have? She was dressed as a medic, and yet she was murdered anyway. What else do we call the deliberate shooting of an unarmed woman as she helps treat injuries?
The U.S. response to these killings all along has been to shift blame away from Israel, the obviously culpable party, absurdly pin responsibility for everything on Hamas, and to shield Israel from the consequences of its forces’ actions. Yesterday was no different. The U.S. vetoed of a Kuwait-sponsored resolution that condemned Israel’s illegal use of force against Palestinian protesters:
Kuwait’s draft resolution condemned the use of “excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force by the Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians” and demanded a halt to such actions.
The U.S. was unusually isolated on both this resolution and the one our government sponsored. Just as the U.S. was the only member of the Security Council voting against the Kuwait-sponsored measure, it was the only voting for its own lopsided resolution. Reflexive U.S. support for anything and everything Israel does cannot possibly be in the American interest, and it is a disaster for the people of Palestine.
Let’s say Hamas fired a rocket that killed a young Israeli nurse while she was tending to the wounded from earlier rockets. Is there any doubt that the mainstream media would cover her death extensively, with photos, and interviews with friends and family? But when Israeli snipers murdered a 21-year-old Palestinian nurse named Razan Al-Najjar yesterday, the mainstream media was nearly silent. Today’s New York Times print edition only includes her as an afterthought, in a report by the usually reliable Rick Gladstone about Israel’s latest defeat at the United Nations. Gladstone’s article notes only that “A 21-year-old Palestinian health worker was killed. . .” Gladstone’s editors could not be bothered to add her name, or to change the passive sentence to report who actually killed her. By mid-morning in New York, the Times did start to rectify its error. A report went up, datelined KHUZAA, Gaza Strip, that includes basic background about this remarkable young woman, including an interview with her father, Ashram. A photograph shows desperate Gazans trying to carry her body to safety after the Israeli sniper shot her. The report did include a no comment from Israel’s military spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, who is normally voluble when he is inventing violence by Gazans.
Sirens wail across border communities Saturday overnight ■ Mortars come after cease-fire brokered Wednesday following worst flare-up since 2014 ■ No organization has claimed responsibility for launches
Senior officer says Israel and Gaza at ‘watershed’ moment, Hamas’s return of the bodies of fallen IDF soldiers is precondition for any long-term quiet A photo taken from Gaza City on May 29, 2018, shows smoke billowing in the background following an Israeli air strike against a military target in the Palestinian coastal enclave, in response to repeated mortar and rocket attacks on southern Israel. A top official in the IDF’s Southern Command said Thursday Israel must take steps to ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which would likely bring quiet to the Gaza region.