Incendiary terror kites launched from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip have caused substantive ecological damage, burning half of the forested land near its southern border with Israel a new study has revealed.
“Now is the time for decisions. My position is very clear: We must deal a heavy blow against Hamas. This is the only way to return the situation to its previous state, and to reduce the level of violence to nearly zero,” The Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman as he cited the data.
The minister spoke during a visit to the Gaza periphery where he met with top military officials ahead of a security cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
The minister observed that while Israel is doing all in its power to avoid escalation and bloodshed in Gaza, “in return, we faced the kind of violence that we have not seen in a long time.” The minister continued: “We also saw [Hamas leader Ismail] Haniyeh saying: ‘Diesel and salaries are not going to stop the violence until the blockade is lifted.’”
Over the week, terror-kite attacks continued with incendiary devices reaching the Israeli towns of Modiin, Bat Yam and Rishon LeZion, in addition to communities in the Gaza-border region.
On Tuesday, the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) said in a report that 1,100 fires have been set since April 10, the day KKL-JNF workers first reported an incident with a terror-kite launched from Gaza. The fires have burned nearly 1,200 hectares of land near the Gaza Strip, more than half of the 2,100 hectares of forested land in the region.
“This week we mark exactly half a year of the phenomenon of kite terrorism, which caused more than 1,000 fires that consumed 12,000 dunams of the forests of the western Negev,” Daniel Gigi, director of the KKL-JNF Southern Region, said in a statement.
“Although the fire continues today, thanks to joint work with the Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority, the residents of the communities, the volunteers and the IDF, we manage to take control of the fires quickly,” he added. “In the past six months, all of the regional authorities have united, and together we have built a working model to fight the fires when they are still small.”
Last week, the World Jewish Congress urged the United Nations Environmental Program to condemn Hamas for “consistently committing crimes against the environment.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Hamas, which exercises complete political and military control over Gaza, of the consequences of its failing to curtail the violence. Speaking on October 14, the prime minister said: “If they don’t stop the attacks, they will be stopped in another way, which will be painful. Very painful.” He added: “We are very close to a different kind of activity… If Hamas has any brains, it will stop.”
Since March, Palestinians have participated in almost weekly Hamas-orchestrated riots at the Gaza border and launched hundreds of terror kites and balloons carrying flammable materials and explosives, sparking near-daily fires that have burned thousands of acres of land in southern Israel.
[Photo: KKLJNFWorldwide / YouTube ]