Palestinians are flying ‘fire balloons’ into Israeli territory, report says

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.

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Israel and Hamas agree to cease-fire

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.

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Top IDF officer: Iran may use Gaza terrorists again to distract from Syria

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 .

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Gaza preschoolers seen performing mock execution of Israeli soldier

A shocking video recently surfaced that allegedly shows a play at a preschool in the Gaza Strip where children dressed up as commandos and performed a mock hostage-taking situation and execution of an Israeli soldier. First reported by the Middle East Media Research Institute , the video purportedly was recorded during a ceremony in May at the Al-Hoda preschool in the self-governing Palestinian territory.

Read more from Fox News…

Murdered by an Israeli sniper, Palestinian nurse Razan Al-Najjar is just an afterthought in the Western press

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.

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Protests resume after Palestinian paramedic’s Gaza funeral

Palestinian children watch the funeral of the volunteer paramedic Razan Najjar, 21, in town of Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday. Najjar was killed by Israeli fire Friday during mass protests in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

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Editor’s Notes: Changing the Gaza paradigm

It’s almost like a clock that you wind up for a year or two and wait for the alarm to go off. In December 2008, Israel launched Operation Cast Lead, the first large-scale anti-Hamas campaign after its unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2005.

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Four Takeaways From The Latest Round Of Gaza Clashes

It began with an attempt by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) to plant an improvised explosive device on the security fence separating Israel from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, and ended with a near full-scale conflagration on a scale not seen since the summer of 2014. Tensions for the time being have tapered off but the recent fighting demonstrates why the Israeli Army (IDF) maintains a constant state of readiness along its volatile borders. 

On Sunday, security forces monitoring the Gaza border detected an object attached to the border fence. Upon closer examination, it turned out to be a bolt cutter of the type used by Palestinian rioters to breach the fence in weeks prior. A remote controlled robot was sent in to inspect and remove the object utilizing a long cord. During the course of removal, the bolt cutter exploded. Fortunately, no one was injured but the situation could have just as easily resulted in casualties.

PIJ terrorists who planted the IED were then spotted manning a nearby observation post. An Israeli Merkava IV tank fired at the OP instantly killing two PIJ operatives. A third was mortally wounded and died soon after. Islamic Jihad swore vengeance.

Two days later, southern Israeli border towns and communities came under intense indiscriminate rocket and mortar bombardment. A kindergarten was hit but fortunately, the children had not yet arrived. Over the course of 22 hours, Hamas and PIJ fired over 100 rockets and mortars, 25 of which were shot down by Israel’s anti-rocket defense system, Iron Dome. According to military sources, the system also succeeded in intercepting incoming mortar rounds, a first in the annals of warfare. There were no fatalities but there was some property damage and three IDF soldiers were wounded, two lightly and one moderately. A civilian was also lightly injured.

The unprovoked attacks inevitably drew Israeli retaliatory strikes which came in two waves. Some 65 Hamas and PIJ positions were targeted including a U-shaped, two-kilometer long tunnel that extended into both Egypt and Israel. It was to be used for smuggling contraband as well as for facilitating terrorist attacks. Rocket and weapons storage facilities were also hit and destroyed. A Hamas naval armory which the army said contained “advanced, unmanned submarine vessels, capable of maritime infiltration and carrying out maritime terror attacks,” was hit and destroyed as well.

Israel informed Hamas through intermediaries that if it continued its attacks, the IDF was prepared to conduct a large-scale military operation, similar to those conducted in 2009 and 2014. Hamas, still smarting from the defeats of 2009 and 2014, understood that Israel meant business and ordered its operatives as well as the PIJ to cease fire. The question is how long will the cease fire hold? The answer to that is anyone’s guess.

Nevertheless, the recent round of fighting highlighted several interesting takeaways. First, the discovery of a Hamas tunnel in Egypt is likely to further strain relations between Egypt and Hamas. Egypt has accused Hamas of aiding Islamist terrorists in northern Sinai and the revelation of a Hamas-dug tunnel in Egypt further erodes Hamas’s credibility in the eyes of the Egyptian government.

Second, the Iron Dome system continues to impress. In 2014, Iron Dome succeeded in shooting down rockets but had yet been incapable of downing mortar rounds. In 2014, a mortar round fired from a Gaza school killed a four-year-old Israeli boy named Daniel Tragerman, who lived in a kibbutz near the border. Modifications and software upgrades to Iron Dome have enabled the system to now have the ability to intercept incoming mortar rounds. This is an unprecedented development in warfare.

Third, during the Obama years, Israel received equivocal support at best, when it carried out anti-terror operations against Islamist terrorist groups. Europe, taking cue from Obama, was downright hostile. But in the latest round, Israel received unequivocal political support from both the United States and the European Union, while Hamas was roundly condemned. This positive development signals a seismic shift in favor of Israel and may have been a contributing factor in Hamas’s decision to call it quits. Hamas recognizes that in any confrontation with Israel, it will lose both militarily and politically, whereas in the past, it at least had a chance of scoring political points.

Fourth, the malevolent role of the Iranian regime in stoking the recent round of violence cannot be overlooked. Iran has its fingerprints all over this one. Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders have readily and publicly acknowledged that they receive aid in the form of cash, training and weapons from Iran. For years, the Iranians have been cultivating proxies to do their bidding and these Palestinian groups are willing participants. Iran has recently been on the receiving end of some sharp blows from Israel, and the mullahs were looking for a way to strike back but without engaging Israel in direct confrontation. Gaza appeared to be Iran’s venue of choice. Nevertheless, despite Hamas’s dependence on Iran, the group still exercises some independent thought, and they wisely cried uncle for they recognized that this was a battle they had no hope of winning.         

    

Read more from Front Page Magazine…

Gaza militants launch barrages across border, Israel hits back with air strikes

ISRAEL BORDER: Palestinian militants launched their heaviest barrages against Israel since the 2014 Gaza war on Tuesday and Israeli aircraft struck back, in a surge of fighting after weeks of border violence. Three Israeli soldiers were wounded by shrapnel, the military said, after dozens of mortar bombs and rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip, triggering warning sirens in southern Israel throughout the day.

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Three soldiers hurt as south buffeted by Gazan fusillades

Netanyahu meets with security brass amid soaring tensions; IDF says Hamas has lost control in Strip; Palestinians claim over 110 rockets and shells fired at Israel Three Israeli soldiers were wounded by shrapnel Tuesday during afternoon barrages of mortar shells and rockets launched into Israel from the Gaza Strip, in the worst flareup of cross-border violence since the 2014 Gaza war. Earlier in the day a civilian was lightly wounded by shrapnel from projectile fire, bringing the total number of injured to four.

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