Israel’s stoppage of Gaza fuel supplies fail to halt incendiary balloons

Restrictions at Kerem Shalom are a measure of the level of tension between Hamas and Israel, and often precedes a serious outbreak of violence.

A FIRE caused by a balloon launched from Gaza.  (photo credit: REUTERS)
A FIRE caused by a balloon launched from Gaza.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
At least 27 fires broke out in the South on Thursday as result of incendiary balloons launched from Gaza by Palestinian terrorists. The Defense Ministry halted the transfer of fuel into Gaza Thursday morning in an effort to quell the escalating violence between Israel and Hamas.
Hamas is accountable for all that is done in the Gaza Strip, as well as for actions launched from Gaza against Israel,” the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said. “Therefore, Hamas will have to bear the consequences of the violence committed against the citizens of the State of Israel.”
Fuel is essential for Gaza because it is used to power its electricity plant. COGAT said it had stopped the fuel transfers in light of the continued launching of incendiary balloons toward Israel.
Israel controls two of Gaza’s three crossings, the pedestrian one at Erez and the commercial one at Kerem Shalom. Egypt is in charge of the third one at Rafah.
Israel has already put a stop to the passage of all but essential humanitarian supplies into Gaza and has limited nautical fishing miles from 15 to eight.
Restrictions at Kerem Shalom are a measure of the level of tension between Hamas and Israel and often precede a serious outbreak of violence.
The NGOs Adalah, Gisha, HaMoked, B’Tselem, Ir Amim and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel called on Israel to resume the fuel deliveries and open the Kerem Shalom crossing.
Israeli fighter jets, attack helicopters and tanks targeted Hamas targets in Gaza early Thursday, including military facilities of its naval force, underground infrastructure and observation posts in response to balloons launched on Wednesday.
According to Gaza-based media, the strikes hit targets in Rafah, Deir el-Balah, Gaza City and Beit Hanun.
There were no reported casualties, but a primary school run by UNRWA at Shati refugee camp west of Gaza city was damaged.
Hamas condemned Israel for damage caused to the UNRWA school.
The “Beach Co-Educational School ‘D’ in Gaza was affected by an Israeli airstrike,” UNRWA said. Initial reports indicated that a device that hit a wall did not explode. Students were on the premises, and the school is now closed, it said.
“The agency is awaiting a full report on the nature of the damage and the alleged unexploded ordnance,” UNRWA said.
It said it was waiting for an assessment of the situation before “requesting accountability from those responsible.”
The attack had placed “hundreds of Palestinian students at serious risk,” Hamas said. adding that “targeting civilian institutions, including the international organizations operating in the Gaza Strip, is a new crime added to a continuous spate of war crimes committed by the Israeli occupation against the Palestinian people everywhere around the clock.”
It called on the International community to “denounce this crime, hold the Israeli occupation accountable and bring its leaders to justice as soon as possible, cut global support for it, boycott it and impose sanctions on it.”
After a lull of several months amid the coronavirus outbreak, Palestinians in Gaza have resumed launching incendiary balloons, prompting fear of a new wave of violence.
Some 80 fires were ignited on Tuesday and Wednesday by incendiary balloons launched from Gaza.
On Thursday morning, OC Gaza Division Brig.-Gen. Nimrod Aloni visited areas hit by the balloons and ordered an expansion of troop deployment to help the firefighting effort.
The military has struck Hamas targets in Gaza over the past week in response to the balloon launchings. On Wednesday, the IDF said it had opened an investigation after a missile fired by an attack helicopter toward Gaza landed inside an Israeli community, damaging a cowshed.
The missile did not explode, and no one was hurt.
Gazans started launching incendiary and explosive devices, including kites, balloons and condoms, about two years ago during the weekly “Great March of Return” demonstrations along the border fence.