JERUSALEM (JTA) — A fire burned dozens of acres of forest and agricultural fields in southern Israel after a kite carrying a firebomb crossed the border from Gaza.
Ten teams of firefighters were called to the Beeri Forest near Kibbutz Beeri on Wednesday afternoon to bring the fire sparked by the incendiary kite under control. The fire burned for hours.
It was the largest fire triggered by the kites sent from Gaza since their first use by Gaza Palestinians in late March, at the start of weekly protests at the Gaza-Israel border. Israel has experienced hot and dry conditions and high winds over the past few days.
The explosives-laden kites are an escalation of the weekly protests 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. The Arab world refers to Israel’s founding as the Nakba, or catastrophe.
Officials in southern Israel have told the 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 wire cutter. He was treated at an Israeli hospital before being turned over to the Israel Security Agency for questioning.
On the same day, 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, the Gaza Health Ministry reported.