(July 2, 2018 / Israel Hayom) Several Palestinian terrorists breached the Israel-Gaza Strip border on Sunday and torched a nearby abandoned Israel Defense Forces post. Israeli troops scrambled to the area, but the Palestinian cell managed to cross the border back to Gaza unscathed.
The military has dubbed these types of incidents, which are on the rise, as “stings.” Defense officials said the IDF holds Hamas responsible for such incidents, as it does for the weekly border riots and the arson terrorism campaign that has been wreaking havoc on Israeli border communities for weeks.
Palestinian kite terrorism, running rampant on the Gaza frontier since late April, has so far decimated more than 8,000 acres of forest and agricultural land on the Israeli side of the border, causing millions of dollars in damage.
Some 35 fires were sparked in Gaza-vicinity communities on Sunday by incendiary kites and helium balloons carrying firebombs. Hundreds of firefighters and volunteers battled the flames for hours before getting them under control.
IDF officials said that the military has technological means for detecting airborne incendiary devices, adding that two-thirds of those launched over the border are, in fact, intercepted by various means.
Israeli aircraft fired warning shots at two terrorist kite cells on Sunday—one in central Gaza and the other in its south.
In response, Hamas warned it has incendiary and explosive kites that can reach the Israeli city of Beersheva, some 35 kilometers (22 miles) from Gaza.
Political and defense officials warned that after three months of border riots and two months of kite terrorism, Israel’s patience is wearing thin.
While Hamas is showing no signs it is willing to curtail these campaigns, some defense officials insist that the terrorist group is not trying to provoke a full-fledged war with Israel.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said last week that Israel “has no intention of being dragged [into a military confrontation]. We will do what it takes when it’s necessary.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also warned that “anyone who drags us into a [military] confrontation will greatly regret it.”
Also on Sunday, the government approved two plans to boost social services in Israeli communities adjacent to the Gaza border at a cost of NIS 5 million ($1.4 million). Both programs will be overseen by Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel, whose ministry will fund them.
One program will focus on streamlining digital services in border communities, and the other will promote youth activities and welfare in the area.
“The best answer to terrorism is maintaining a normal life,” said Gamliel. “These programs make it clear to Hamas that we are here to stay, and they better get used to it.”
She added that “these programs will help the residents of the Gaza-vicinity communities and Sderot to continue bravely facing the threat of Gaza terrorism.”