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After Hamas Threat of 5,000 Incendiary Devices, Israel Explodes Balloon with “I ♥ You” on It

Following a threat Thursday by Hamas that it would launch 5,000 fire kites into Israel to mark the end of Ramadan, Israeli Police found and detonated an incendiary balloon that landed in Israel, The Times of Israel reported Friday. Photographs show that the balloon was marked with the message “I ♥ You.”

On Friday, The Times of Israel reported that Israeli aircraft had targeted a group of Palestinians who had been preparing incendiary balloons.

An IDF statement said, “The IDF views the use of incendiary balloons and kites with great severity and will operate to prevent their use.”

The Times referred to the firing of warning shots as a new tactic to counter the attacks by rioters using balloons and kites to carry burning fuel across the border into Israel. Israel has fired on groups preparing to launch the devices three times in the past two days.

The fires started by the attacks of incendiary balloons and kites have consumed thousands of acres of farmland, forest, and natures reserves, causing more than $1.4 million in damages.

Israel has been using drones to counter the incendiary balloons and kites, and while the tactic has had some success, it hasn’t been able to prevent all of the attacks.

Last week, David Halbfinger, the Jerusalem Bureau Chief of The New York Times, published a photo essay on Twitter showing the threat the incendiary kites and balloons pose to Israel, and the measures Israel is taking to fight them.

Halbfinger noted that “The losses to Israeli agriculture from flaming kites have been immense, though farmers raced to harvest early. But young people from nearby keep coming to look.”

According to The Times of Israel, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh joined several thousand Gazans for morning prayers near the border fence with Israel.

[Photo: JudahAriGross / Twitter ]