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Israeli residents, Jewish National Fund respond to Gaza arson by planting trees

Israeli residents from Gaza-border communities gathered to plant dozens of trees with the support of the Jewish National Fund, Keren Kayemet L’Yisrael. A record-breaking 45 fires were set in the area on Friday, with 60 firefighters and 20 fire trucks battling the blazes.

Smoke rises from Israeli agricultural fields near the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip, after being set on fire by a flaming kite flown over by Palestinians as they protest by the border fence on May 14, 2018. Photo by Flash90.
Smoke rises from Israeli agricultural fields near the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip, after being set on fire by a flaming kite flown over by Palestinians as they protest by the border fence on May 14, 2018. Photo by Flash90.

Though new arson fires were started inside Israel along the Gaza border, caused by “terror kites” sent by Palestinians on Friday and Saturday, local residents have already begun replanting in a display of resilience and defiance against terror.

A record-breaking 45 fires were set across the border area on Friday. An additional 10 fires were kindled on Saturday, primarily around Be’eri, Kissufim and Kibbutz Nir Am. Thousands of acres of land have been burned and a third of the Carmia Nature Reserve destroyed due to the new terror tactic, which involves Palestinians tying incendiaries to kites and flying them into Israel.

Residents from Gaza-border communities gathered in Kibbutz Or HaNer to plant dozens of trees to begin to repair the damage with the support of the Jewish National Fund, Keren Kayemet LeYisrael.

“The kites phenomenon completely destroyed a lot of forests and groves in our area, and we decided, as a community activity, to give back to nature what has been taken from it,” said Ofir Libenstein, a member of Kibbutz Kfar Aza who is leading the initiative, in a report by Ynet news.

“Beyond the financial damage, there’s also damage to the Gaza border residents’ morale, and we have decided to come together as a community and change this reality. The residents are coming together—families and children—to plant the trees,” he is quoted as saying.

The participants were joined by soldiers from the Gaza Division’s Northern Brigade, whose commander, Col. Avi Rosenfeld, vowed to expend every effort to continue protecting the communities. The Israel Defense Forces have attempted to combat the kites by using drones to catch the devices mid-air, with moderate success. IDF troops have also fired warning shots at a group preparing explosive balloons and are considering the use of live fire against fire-starters.

According to reports, hundreds of Gazans have begun rigging kites with flames and fuel, and sending them into Israel. The flaming kites have proven themselves to be an inexpensive, relatively simple and low-risk means of attacking Israel.

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