Massive waves of balloon-borne incendiary devices were launched from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel throughout Thursday, sparking over two dozen fires throughout the area, according to estimates by Israeli authorities.
The rash of arson attacks put Thursday on pace to see the largest number of fires started by Gazan balloons in a single day since Palestinians began launching airborne incendiary devices over a year ago.
According to the Fire and Rescue Services and local governments, at least 30 fires of varying sizes had been started in southern Israel throughout Thursday, including 17 large ones that were confirmed by investigators to have been started by arson balloons.
Firefighters from Fire and Rescue Services, the military, Jewish National Fund, the Parks Authority and local volunteers were all called in to assist in the effort to extinguish the blazes.
Since Sunday, there have been approximately 100 fires started by balloon-borne arson devices, according to figures from the local fire department.
There have been no injuries reported in these blazes, most of which have occurred in agricultural fields and grasslands, but they have caused significant damage to crops and wildlife. Several fires were also reported inside Israeli communities in the Sha’ar Hanegev, Sdot Negev and Eshkol regions.
A balloon-borne incendiary device also landed just outside a home in the Eshkol region, where it was quickly extinguished before the fire could spread, an Eshkol spokesperson said.
As of Thursday evening, there was no response by the military or government to the day’s fires. On Tuesday, Israel cut fuel supplies to Gaza’s power plant in a punitive measure against the uptick in fire balloons.
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