A spate of 11 fires in fields in the Eshkol Regional Council in the western Negev Desert on Saturday sparked concern that the area was being targeted by a new wave of arson terrorism from the Gaza Strip.

These fears were compounded by the fact that terrorist leaders in Gaza have recently been threatening to resume sending explosives-laden balloons over the border fence into communities in southern Israel.

Indeed, shortly after the fires were first reported, security personnel spotted balloons being inflated on the Gaza side of the border fence, approximately half a kilometer (0.3 miles) from the locations of the fires.

However, according to an arson investigator with the Fire and Rescue Services who examined the sites of the two largest conflagrations, which broke out at Kibbutz Be’eri and Kibbutz Nir Am, while the fires “bore clear signs of arson,” they had “nothing to do with the balloons.”

Security forces and firefighters managed to contain the blazes. No injuries were reported.

Indendiary devices attached to balloons launched by terrorists in the Gaza Strip have caused hundreds of fires and extensive damage in recent years.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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