Israel’s “Light Blade” laser-defense system, designed to intercept airborne threats launched from the Gaza Strip, was deployed operationally for the first time on Tuesday.

Said to be the first defense system of its kind in the world, the “Light Blade” will target incendiary balloons and kites from Gaza, which have started countless fires in western Negev communities in recent years, as well as drones.

The past week has seen a rapid rise of cross-border arson attacks, with terrorist groups in Gaza launching explosives-laden balloons into Israel. On Tuesday alone, such attacks caused some 60 brush fires across southern Israel. In response, Israeli aircraft struck Hamas targets in Gaza overnight on Tuesday.

The “Light Blade” system was developed by three civilian engineers working with Ben-Gurion University researchers and the technology branches of the Israel Police and Israel Defense Forces. The project was led by Border Police Commissioner Maj. Gen. Yaakov Shabtai.

According to available details, the system is capable of engaging targets with an effective range of 1.2 miles, day or night.

Shabtai said last year upon the system’s initial unveiling that “Light Blade” provides “a near conclusive response to everything relating to balloons and kites, and delivers a safe and effective solution to the drone threat.”

Earlier this week, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi warned that if the campaign of balloon terror persists, Israel would respond in a “significant” manner.

On Monday, Gantz ordered the IDF to temporarily shut down operations at the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

“Such incidents will first and foremost hurt the residents of the Gaza Strip and the efforts to improve its economic state for the welfare of the Palestinian people,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

“Israel and the IDF will react forcibly against any infringement on our sovereignty and any harm that comes to Israeli civilians.”

Hamas officials told Israel Hayom on Monday that the organization will not prevent further escalation unless Israel meets its demands with respect to easing the blockade on the coastal enclave.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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