Several colorful balloons tied together with explosives and a Palestinian flag were found in a community on the outskirts of Jerusalem this week as tensions escalate between Palestinians and Israelis.
On Tuesday night, three Palestinians breached the border from Gaza into Israel and were shot dead after they threw an explosive device at Israeli troops.
Israeli officials are concerned that Hamas may try to undermine the Fifth World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem this week with provocations such border infiltrations and more balloon – or even rocket – attacks.
In recent days, balloon attacks from Gaza have picked up again. One bunch was located 25 miles from Gaza flying over Ashdod. These terror balloons had become common in southern Israel in towns on the border of the Gaza Strip. It is unlikely that the “suspicious bunch of balloons” discovered near Beit Shemesh originated in Gaza, but this appearance of balloons in the center of the country is new and at this point police do not know from where they could have come.
The balloon tactic, which began in 2018 as a simple, cheap and effective method of terrorizing Israelis, had largely stopped over the past few months. At the height of these attacks, the balloons caused fires in Israel which resulted in billions of shekels worth of damage to crops and other properties.
Palestinians said they started launching the balloons again to protest Israeli “foot dragging” in implementing ceasefire agreements, specifically easing restrictions imposed on the Gaza Strip. Terrorist factions have also resume the activities of the “Night Confusion” units that detonate sound bombs and sirens along the Gaza-Israel border in order to “confuse” IDF soldiers and Israelis in neighboring communities.
Nevertheless, Israel has allowed an envoy from Qatar, Khaled al-Hardan, to enter Gaza this week with another installment of relief funds for impoverished families in the coastal strip.