Explosives-laden kite sent from Gaza ignites forest, fields near southern Israeli kibbutz

JTA

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A fire burned for hours in a southern Israel forest after a kite carrying a firebomb crossed the border from Gaza.

Ten teams of firefighters were called to the Be’eri Forest near Kibbutz Be’eri on Wednesday afternoon to bring the fire sparked by the incendiary kite under control. The fire burned dozens of acres of forest and agricultural fields.

It was the largest fire triggered by the kites sent from Gaza since the first use of such devices by Gazan Palestinians. Israel has experienced hot and dry conditions and high winds over the last few days.

The explosives-laden kites were an escalation of the weekly protests at the Gaza-Israel border, called the March of Return, which are scheduled to end on May 14, the 70th anniversary according to the Gregorian calendar of the birth of the modern State of Israel, which the Arab world calls the Nakba, or catastrophe.

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Officials in southern Israel have told Israeli media that the explosives-laden kites are now a daily occurrence.

On Thursday, Israeli troops shot and injured a Palestinian man from Gaza who was attempting to damage the border fence near northern Gaza. He was carrying a knife and a wire-cutter. He was treated at an Israeli hospital in southern Israel and then turned over to the Israel Security Agency for questioning.

Also on Thursday, Gaza’s Health Ministry reported that a 19-year-old Palestinian who was injured by Israeli gunfire in Friday’s protests at the border fence died of his injuries.

Some 45 Palestinians have been killed and over 1,500 injured since the start of the March of Return protests on March 30, the Gaza Health Ministry has reported.