Explosive balloons fall in southern Israel, over 70 km. from Gaza

Israel Police stress that all cases of a suspicious object being spotted should be reported by calling 100. Civilians should not touch the object and should keep their distance.

Explosive balloon in the Shaar HaNegev Regional Council, Jan. 30, 2020 (photo credit: ISRAEL POLICE)
Explosive balloon in the Shaar HaNegev Regional Council, Jan. 30, 2020
(photo credit: ISRAEL POLICE)
Multiple explosive balloons were spotted throughout southern Israel on Thursday as terrorists continued to launch them from both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, amid tensions surrounding US President Donald Trump's "Deal of the Century" peace plan.
Balloons with a possible explosive charge attached to them were found on Thursday in the Negev city of Dimona, located over 70 km. from the Gaza Strip.
Police sappers arrived at the scene in order to dispose of the suspicious object.

An explosive balloon exploded in the air near a town in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council in southern Israel later on Thursday, according to Walla! News. No damage or injuries were reported.
Balloons with a suspicious object attached to them were found soon afterwards in the Shaar HaNegev Regional Council. A police sapper arrived at the scene to deal with object.
Incendiary balloons, similar to those launched from the Gaza Strip, were launched from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Isawiya for the first time on Wednesday, according to Palestinian media. On Saturday morning, several balloons with an explosive device resembling a rocket-propelled grenade attached to them landed outside Sde Boker in the Negev Desert. Sde Boker is also about 70 km. from the Gaza Strip.
Israel Police stress that all cases in which a suspicious object is spotted should be reported by calling 100. Civilians should not touch the object and should keep their distance until police arrive at the scene.
"Police sappers are authorized to handle suspicious objects and have professional protective gear that is fit for this," the Police said in a statement.
Rocket sirens were heard in the town of Yad Mordechai in southern Israel on Thursday, but the IDF later announced that the sirens were not triggered by rocket fire.
 
Hen Greenberg, a spokesperson for the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council, stated that no rockets fell in the area and that there were no injuries.
Palestinian media reported that terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip fired towards Israeli aircraft at around the same time as the sirens were sounded.

The Israeli Air Force attacked multiple sites belonging to the Hamas terrorist group in the Gaza Strip on Saturday night, in response to dozens of incendiary and explosive balloons that have been launched from the Hamas-controlled coastal enclave in the past two weeks, according to an IDF spokesperson.

"The IDF views with great severity all destructive activities of all types towards Israeli territory and will continue to act as necessary against attempts to harm [Israeli] citizens," the spokesperson said, adding that Hamas is responsible for all actions in and from Gaza and will suffer the consequences for acts of terrorism against Israeli citizens.
 
In response to the airstrikes, Hamas spokesman Hazam Kasam stated that the people will continue "in their struggle until the siege is lifted completely and we return the freedom of the citizens of the Gaza Strip."

A senior Hamas official said last week that the recent spate of explosive balloons that are being launched from the Strip was a signal to Israel to accelerate the unofficial agreement between the two sides.

Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.