Palestinian kite terrorism continued to ‎‎rage over the weekend as 30 fires erupted in Israeli ‎‎communities near the Israel-Gaza border after ‎dozens of airborne incendiary devices, launched from Gaza, crashed in Israeli territory.

Hundreds of firefighters and volunteers, assisted by ‎firefighting aircraft, battled the blazes, which ‎were fueled by the heavy heat and strong wind ‎conditions. Several roads in the area were ‎temporarily blocked as fires threatened them as ‎well. ‎

On Sunday, an Israeli aircraft struck the vehicle of one of the ‎ringleaders of the kite-terrorism campaign. ‎No one was wounded in the strike in the ‎Shujaiyya neighborhood in Gaza, but it marked an escalation in Israel’s response to such weaponry.

One of the balloons launched over the border on Saturday ‎was found to be carrying explosives. Police sappers ‎neutralized the device safely. ‎

In response, the Israel Defense Forces struck a terrorist cell gearing ‎up to launch additional explosive kites over the ‎border, as well as a Hamas observation post in ‎northern Gaza. ‎

On Friday, the military fired warning shots at ‎terrorist cells trying to send incendiary kites and ‎balloons over the Israeli border. ‎

The Palestinians reported that two men were wounded ‎in an IDF strike on a kite cell in the al-Bureij ‎refugee camp in central Gaza.‎

‎“The IDF is determined to counter the Palestinians’ ‎acts of terror,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement, adding that regardless of which terrorist organization instigates the attacks, “Hamas will be held accountable for ‎anything that transpires in the Gaza Strip.”

Military officials warned last week that if ‎the Palestinian kite ‎terrorism continues, the ‎IDF will launch ‎surgical strikes to eliminate these ‎terrorist cells, which is a policy currently used ‎against cells that ‎fire rockets at Israel. ‎

However, senior IDF officers expressed concern that ‎surgical strikes against kite terrorist cells could set off a rapid security escalation that could lead ‎to another round of fighting in Gaza.‎ ‎

The IDF is mostly employing drone technology to ‎combat kite terrorism, but local residents say the drones are ineffective in alleviating the damage caused by the ‎fires.

Authorities say that more than 7,500 acres of forest and ‎‎‎agricultural ‎land on ‎the Israeli side of the border ‎‎‎have been reduced ‎to ash since the Palestinians ‎‎‎launched the “kite campaign” in late April, causing ‎‎‎tens of millions of ‎shekels in ‎damage and affecting ‎‎‎‎every community in the area. ‎

The Israel Nature ‎and Parks Authority ‎says the impact on ‎local flora and fauna has been devastating, as local habitats have lost more than ‎‎3,500 acres to fires, ‎including one-third of the Carmia Nature Reserve, a part of the Be’eri Forest and ‎all of the Nir Am Nature Reserve.‎

INPA official Uri Naveh said the environmental damage ‎caused to the area was nothing short of ‎catastrophic. ‎

‎“The Western Negev area is the natural habitat for ‎rare species of plants and many species of reptiles, ‎which have sustained catastrophic damage that will take ‎decades to repair,” said Naveh. ‎“Moreover, if the fires are a recurring event, the ‎habitat may change completely. Nature knows how to ‎deal with a large fire every 10 years or so, but if it ‎happens every year or in short intervals, without ‎the habitat having time to recover, it changes so dramatically that it becomes something else.”