Several balloons with an explosive device resembling a rocket propelled grenade attached to it landed outside Sde Boker in the Negev Desert on Saturday morning.
The balloons were discovered close to a gas station by security staff at the Midreshet Ben-Gurion educational center near Sde Boker and were neutralized by police sappers.
“We confirm that a suspicious object landed in an open area south of the Negev region; bomb disposal experts are at the scene. No injuries or damage caused. Bomb disposal experts continue to patrol the South and respond to any suspicious objects or balloons that have fallen,” Micky Rosenfeld, spokesman for the Israel Police told The Jerusalem Post.
Sde Boker is some 70 km. from the Gaza Strip.
Later on Saturday, an explosive device was found tied to balloons in the fields of Kibbutz Be’eri near the Gaza border.
Over the past two years, Gazans have launched countless explosive and incendiary aerial devices into southern Israel – including kites, balloons and condoms – landing on highways, trees, playgrounds and private yards, and setting fire to tens of thousands of dunams of forests and fields.
Dozens of incendiary devices have been launched from the Hamas-controlled coastal enclave in the past two weeks.
A senior Hamas official said last week that the recent spate of explosive balloons that are being launched from the Gaza Strip was a signal to Israel to accelerate the unofficial agreement between the two sides.
According to The Associated Press, Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said the balloons had been launched by disgruntled individuals, not Hamas, but that the group was “satisfied” and that more would be launched “if the occupation doesn’t pick up the message.”
In a briefing to the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday, the UN’s Special Envoy for the Middle East Nickolay Mladenov called the renewed balloon launches “concerning and regrettable” and that “these actions are a risk to the civilian population.”