Incendiary balloons suspected as fires reported in southern Israel

Balloon launches had ceased after a ceasefire was signed at the end of August between Israel and Hamas.

Gaza balloon units prepare incendiary and explosive balloons to launch towards Israel, August 2020 (photo credit: AHFAD AL-NASSER BALLOON UNIT/TELEGRAM)
Gaza balloon units prepare incendiary and explosive balloons to launch towards Israel, August 2020
(photo credit: AHFAD AL-NASSER BALLOON UNIT/TELEGRAM)
Incendiary balloons were suspected of sparking a number of fires in southern Israel on Wednesday, as at least two fires were reported in the Kissufim and Be'eri forests.
Earlier on Wednesday, incendiary and explosive balloons were reportedly launched from the Gaza Strip, according to a Telegram channel reportedly affiliated with the Gaza balloon units, which shared photos and video allegedly recording the launches.

In response to the balloon launches in August, Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister and Benny Gantz, warned that such launches would be met with "forceful" responses.
Balloon launches had ceased after a ceasefire was signed at the end of August between Israel and Hamas. The ceasefire came after weeks of daily balloon launches and a number of rounds of rocket fire toward southern Israel.
Hamas sought to present the understandings, reached under the auspices of Qatar, as a big achievement for the Palestinians.
“The Palestinian resistance achieved new measures to ease the siege and confront the coronavirus in the Gaza Strip, contrary to Israel’s desire,” said Hamas spokesman Abdel Latif Qanou.
The reports of incendiary balloons on Wednesday come just days after the Gaza Health Ministry warned that coronavirus tests would be stopped within a week due to a shortage of testing supplies.
Some 73 new cases of the virus were reported in the Strip on Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases since the beginning of the outbreak to 2,518, with 17 deaths recorded since March, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
Anna Ahronheim and Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.