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Incendiary balloons spark environmental disaster

Oct. 10, 2018 4:43 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 12, 2018 9:31 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- According to data received from KKL (Jewish National Fund Keren Kayemet Leisrael), thousands of dunams of farmland and woodland were set on fire by incendiary kites and balloons launched from the besieged Gaza Strip into Israel over the past six months.

KKL documented that 1,053 fires were sparked in Israeli communities surrounding Gaza and that about 11,920 dunams (2,945 acres) of farmland and woodland were set on fire, prompting an "environmental disaster" in the area.

The majority of the conflagrations broke out in the Beeri forest, with 452 fires sparking there, while 353 fires broke out in the Kissufim forest.

Meanwhile, 75 fires were documented in the Shokeda forest, 31 fires sparked in the Hannun forest, and 29 fires scorched the HaBesor Stream forest.

The data was provided by KKL's forest rangers in the Negev area, who have been on call during the past six months, arriving to the scene once receiving a report about a fire breaking out, in order to gain control of the flames to later extinguish it.

KKL added that dozens of trees were significantly harmed and their rehabilitation is expected to take years.

Additionally, hundreds of wild animals were killed in the fires due to the continuous launch of incendiary kites and balloons into southern Israel.

An Israeli firefighter said "The nature in the Gaza border communities has been severely damaged. In my opinion, when rain comes, we'll be able to know what can be renewed. Everything is scorched now."

In September, Israeli farmers from Israeli communities surrounding the besieged Gaza Strip announced that they will be filing a lawsuit against the Hamas movement leaders before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague.

The lawsuit will be filed for violating international laws, including the launch of incendiary kites and balloons resulting in burning hundreds of dunams of open fields.

Palestinians in Gaza view the incendiary kites as a form of protest against Israel's nearly 12-year blockade of Gaza and for Palestinian refugees right of return to their homes and lands which are now known as Israel.

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