Photo Credit:
Alternate Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Benny Gantz, August 9, 2020.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Blue&White) on Monday night ordered the closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing on Israel’s border with northern Gaza starting Tuesday, following the continued attacks of incendiary balloons from the Gaza Strip. During the day Monday, about 30 fires broke out in the Israeli Gaza Envelope settlements as a result of those incendiary balloons.

Fire raging on the Gaza Strip border, Aug. 10, 2020. / Shlomit Shavit / Israel Nature and Parks Authority

The fires broke out in the kibbutzim of Nahal Oz, Bari, Alumim, Ein Hashlosha and Kissufim. Earlier, explosions were heard over the town of Sderot as a result of incendiary balloons. Earlier on Monday, Hamas fired heavy volleys of rockets into the sea as a message to Israel that at some point these rockets would be trained on her.

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Police were called following a report of a balloon to which a suspicious object was attached, which landed on Haneviim Street in the town of Ofakim. A police sapper verified that it was an incendiary balloon. Another suspicious balloon was found in the new cemetery in Be’er Sheva.

The Nature and Parks Authority said that a balloon started a fire in the Bari Forest, where about 100 acres were incinerated.

The forum of the heads of the municipalities in the Gaza Envelope and Sderot issued a statement saying: “The phenomenon of incendiary and explosive balloons that have returned to our lives illustrates the heavy price paid by the residents of the Gaza Envelope and Sderot, in the absence of a solution to the conflict with terrorist organizations in Gaza. Our routine is repeatedly violated, by deafening explosions, fires and rocket fire on a regular and ongoing basis. All of these are taking place in the midst of a health and economic crisis, which is also leaving its marks in our area. An explosive balloon is like a rocket. Sending incendiary balloons is a security escalation. We demand that the Israeli government put its internal disputes aside and provide a permanent security response to the tens of thousands of residents of the Gaza Strip and Sderot.”

So far, it appears, no one in Jerusalm is listening. Following a security consultation, Gantz’s Defense Ministry and the IDF decided that despite those dozens of incendiary balloons, they would still permit the shipping of essential humanitarian equipment and fuel through the Kerem Shalom crossing. After all, the Gaza population can’t be left without its fuel.

In less than a week, the reality in the Gaza Envelope communities has returned to 2018, as agricultural fields, natural forests and nature reserves are on fire again. The balloons and the rocket threats are Hamas’s messages in response to the news that Qatar has decided to stop delivering its monthly economic aid.

Hamas is also annoyed with Israel, which did not keep its word and did not establish a new hospital in the Gaza Strip at its own expense. And it did not overhaul the electric power system in Gaza, much of it was shot down during the fighting against Gazan terrorists. It’s only way to convince Israel to keep its promises, Hamas members claim in interviews that they give generously to the Israeli media.

For example, sources in Gaza told Kan 11 News: “We sat quietly for months and Israel squandered the understandings it reached with us. No improvement in electricity, no employment projects, no promotion of projects.”

Undoubtedly, the world owes the people of Gaza a free lunch, and if it’s not served to their table soon they will kill Jews.

On Monday morning, Ganz said in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee: “We are dealing with enemies who deliberately stock weapons in a crowded civilian environment. And when we have no choice but to fight, it can have serious consequences.”

To remind you, Major General Benny Gantz was the IDF Chief of Staff during the July-August 2014 war in Gaza and then, too, he did not find an elegant solution to Hamas’s strange insistence on trying to kill as many Jews as possible and doing it from behind the backs of their own women and children, firing rockets at Israel from schools and hospitals.

The solution found then was sending ground forces into the terrorist strongholds in the Strip and an aerial bombardment which ended in heavy destruction and some 3,500 Gazan casualties, most of them terrorists.

On Sunday night, the IDF attacked the Gaza Strip in response to the launching of incendiary balloons, and for an incident near Kissufim in which terrorists shot at Israeli civilians across the border fence. The IDF spokesman said that an Israeli aircraft attacked a Hamas observation post in the northern Gaza Strip. As usual in these cases, Hamas managed to get its men out of the post many hours before the Air Force mercilessly destroyed a considerable amount of sand dunes.

The Defense Ministry announced on Monday: “The sending of incendiary balloons and the violation of the security calm will, first and foremost, harm the residents of the Gaza Strip, the development of their economy and the attempts to improve the civilian situation. The IDF and the State of Israel will respond firmly and harshly to any violation of our sovereignty and of our citizens. Hamas bears responsibility for everything that is done against Israel, in and out of the Gaza Strip, and it will bear the consequences of the violence perpetrated against the citizens of Israel.”

In the first ad for his campaign in 2019, when he was just entering politics, Gantz posted a video of the destruction caused by the IDF in the Gaza Strip, along with a rolling counter that counted the number of dead Arabs killed by Commander Gantz in the Gaza Strip – the counter stopped at 1,364. Gantz tried to convey the message that only he, the chief of staff of the 2014 war, knows how to stop the violent Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip.

This week it’s pretty clear that Gantz is not interested in going back to that war, which is really the only way to stop the balloons, the rockets, and the terrorist tunnels. At a time when Israel is facing the coronavirus and is on the verge of an economic collapse, Gantz does not want to take the country to war.

But, as mentioned above, there is no other way to stop the Gaza violence. The IDF has already killed all the sand dunes in the Gaza Strip.

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