Jewish group will sue Hamas over damage from rockets and incendiary kites


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund said it will sue Hamas in international court for environmental damage caused to land it owns near the border with Gaza caused by rockets, mortar shells and incendiary kites.

Hamas, which controls Gaza, is considered responsible for at least 200 fires in southern Israel caused by flaming kites and helium balloons sent over the border since protests at the border began in March.

Damages to agriculture from fires set by the incendiary kites are estimated at $1.4 million, and thousands of acres of agricultural land and nature reserves in the Gaza border area have been damaged or destroyed, including KKL-JNF forests.

“It is inconceivable that the international community would allow Hamas not to be held accountable and pay for its criminal acts; not only against the citizens of the state of Israel, but also against nature and the environment which have been severely hurt by this criminal environmental terrorism,” KKL-JNF World Chairman Daniel Atar said in a statement. “Hamas has proved that they have no humanity; not just toward human beings, but also toward animals and natural resources.”

KKL-JNF said it would enlist the aid of international law attorneys with experience in this area.

On Tuesday, at least three fires were sparked by flaming kites near the border with Gaza, including two near Kibbutz Nir Am, northeast of the Gaza Strip, and one near Moshav Netiv Ha’asara, to the north of Gaza.

A fire also spread quickly in front of Sapir College in Sderot and was brought under control hours later. Also Tuesday, a brush fire that broke out in a field outside Kibbutz Kissufim in southern Israel was believed to be sparked by an incendiary kite.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the government to withhold customs duties collected by Israel for the Palestinian Authority on items that come through Israeli ports on the way to the P.A. in order to offset the cost of the damage despite the fact that Hamas controls Gaza and is considered responsible for the attacks.

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