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Burning Gaza balloons are back in the direction of Israel

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Palestinian youths hide among olive trees near the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, fearing that Israeli reconnaissance planes will monitor them while preparing explosive balloons to launch them towards the other side of the border. Then the balloons rise up in the air and shots are heard in the distant.

Incendiary balloons appeared in 2018 for the first time on the sidelines of demonstrations about the “right of return” that were being carried out by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip near the Israeli border, and then disappeared for a few months under a truce agreement between Hamas and Israel.

Weeks ago, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip returned to launch these colorful balloons loaded with incendiary or explosive materials towards Israel.

The number of Palestinian attacks increased after US President Donald Trump announced on January 28 his plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which was strongly rejected by the Palestinians.

In the early hours of one morning in February, seven masked activists gathered in a small tent in the east of Al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, and began to fill tens of balloons with hydrogen gas, while others installed explosive devices of various sizes.

Once the balloons crossed the border, he heard the sound of bullets, most likely the source of the Israeli watchtower, which is located at the border, and whose elements were trying to drop the balloons before they advanced.

But the balloons did not fall off immediately, and that did not prevent the activists from completing their work. An activist, who was hiding under an olive tree, fired in a rainy atmosphere, embodiment of a small plane appended with a bomb, which they carried with several balloons.

The weight of the stereo made of sponge and wrapped with tin foil is about half a kilo.

In the tent surrounded by sand-filled bags, activists prepared dozens of small packages filled with explosives and a bag filled with hundreds of balloons.

“We are not afraid, we are martyrdom projects,” said one of them, Abu Hamza.

In the Gaza Strip, there are groups dedicated to launching incendiary balloons.

“We have resumed launching balloons against the enemy a month ago,” added Abu Hamza, a member of the “Descendants of Salah al-Din” group of the Popular Resistance Committees.

“There is coordination with the Sons of Al-Zawari affiliated with Hamas and the Burq units of the Islamic Jihad movement regarding the launch of balloons,” he added.

The group of “Descendants of Salah al-Din” includes 180 activists, while the groups affiliated with the Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements and both the popular and democratic fronts include twice the number, according to the activists.

The Popular Front gave the name of Wadih Haddad, one of its founders, to its group of balloons. The “National Resistance Units” are affiliated with the Democratic Front.

The coordinator of the group of descendants of Salahuddin, called Abu Malik, explains to reporters the balloons, while carrying a “Yassin” ball weighing 900 grams. And “Al-Yassin” name was given to the shell, according to the founder of the Hamas movement, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who was assassinated by Israel in 2004.

Abu Malik says that the aim of the shell is “to cause casualties among soldiers and homes.”

He added, “We always target kibbutzim (agricultural gatherings),” noting that “balloons can reach even the city of Beersheba.”

Activists are watching the force and direction of the winds before launching balloons that Abu Malik says are aimed at “engaging and exhausting the enemy.”

Balloons are sometimes exposed to air strikes or from Israeli tanks.

In December, Israel announced the development of military laser devices that could destroy balloons. But she did not specify when it would operate the new technology, which she said she had been developing for more than three decades, but would be able to intercept anything.

On Tuesday, it announced a decision to stop launching balloons. A source in the groups launching balloons said, “We received instructions Tuesday to stop the firing of incendiary and explosive balloons from Gaza until a new decision is issued.”

He pointed out that the factions received a promise to “stop the air strikes and the Israeli aggression, as well as pledging to introduce facilities to Gaza.” This came after an Egyptian security delegation left the besieged sector from Israel after a visit that lasted for hours, during which it held meetings with the Hamas leadership and the Palestinian factions. He had held meetings with Israeli officials on Sunday evening, aimed at stabilizing the calm.

Political analyst Gamal Al-Fadi says that the balloons “provoke the anger of Israel because they are rudimentary devices and not traditional means of combat,” expecting the situation to be contained after the Egyptian delegation’s visit.

The prominent leader of the Hamas movement, Khalil al-Hayya, said in an interview with reporters in Gaza that the youths decided “separately to return to launching balloons to pressure the occupation to end the siege” imposed on the Strip about 13 years ago.

In al-Bureij camp, Abu Hamza says, “We adhere to the driving instructions, if a decision is made to stop it, we stop it.”

On Thursday, new balloons were launched, causing panic at a school in Sderot, near the Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported.

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