TEL AVIV – Firefighting planes put out a number of large blazes along the Gaza border Sunday, likely caused by incendiary balloons launched from the coastal enclave as Palestinian groups threaten to bolster their fire terror activities.
Fire balloons were found near two of the blazes in the Eshkol Region on Monday. An enormous blaze that broke out at Kibbutz Carmia required industrial firefighting equipment and planes in order to be extinguished.
Palestinian media reported earlier in the day that an Israeli plane shot at a group of Gazans who were preparing to launch incendiary devices. The IDF did not confirm the reports.
A day earlier, a group called the “Sons of Zouari,” which organizes the so-called “kite terror,” vowed they would conduct a “high-quality response” against Israel in light of the IDF’s retaliatory strikes, according to Palestinian social media and an unnamed source cited by the Times of Israel.
The IDF confirmed that it struck Hamas terror targets on Sunday afternoon.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday sent a warning message to Hamas that “whoever hurts Israel” will be targeted swiftly and harshly, and the Jewish state will respond to any and all provocations, including the launching of incendiary kites and balloons into Israeli territory.
“Whoever hurts us, we will hit them with great strength. This is what we did yesterday,” Netanyahu said.
“The IDF dealt Hamas the harshest blow since Operation Protective Edge. I hope that they got the message; if not, they will get it later,” he added.
The Israeli premier also quashed any rumors that Israel would not respond to the so-called terror kites that have been flown over the border in recent months, sparking thousands of fires.
“I heard it being said that Israel has agreed to a ceasefire that would allow the continuation of terrorism by incendiary kites and balloons; this is incorrect. We are not prepared to accept any attacks against us and we will respond appropriately,” Netanyahu said.
His remarks came after a day of intense fighting Saturday that saw Hamas terrorists in Gaza launch some 200 missiles into Israel, prompting widespread Israeli airstrikes on terror targets, including two cross-border tunnels, in the coastal enclave.
Four Israelis were wounded by a rocket that landed on a home in Sderot.
According to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, two Palestinian teenagers were killed in an airstrike on a building that was directly on top of a Hamas terror tunnel.
An Egyptian-brokered ceasefire came into effect Saturday night. Several mortars were fired by Hamas after the ceasefire announcement. Hamas also made it clear that the ceasefire did not include cessation of the incendiary devices.
At a cabinet meeting, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman echoed Netanyahu’s warning, saying that Hamas would “pay a heavy price” if it continued its provocations.
“We have been through a stormy weekend. With regards to the rest of the week, it is important to emphasize that we have no intention of tolerating this — not rockets, not kites, not drones — nothing,” Liberman said.