A fire broke out on Friday morning in the Kissufim forest on the Gaza border according to a statement by Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF), which manages the site.
Six firefighting teams were deployed to two different areas in the Ben Shemen area near the Adam IDF base in order to prevent the fire from spreading to the base, according to the Ayalon Regional Fire Brigade. Two planes were also deployed to help put out the fires.
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Incendiary balloons from Gaza
It is suspected that incendiary balloons from Gaza started the fire. In 2018, the KKL-JNF statement said, a fire broke out in the exact same place at the outset of a string of incendiary balloon fires.
The last time incendiary balloons caused a fire in the region was in September 2021.
Otzma Yehudit MK Almog Cohen, a vocal advocate for the residents of the Negev region, called on Defense Minister Yoav Gallant to take action in a Friday afternoon statement.
“I call on [Gallant] to react with an iron fist against these terrorists,” he wrote. “I will not accept a situation in which the territories surrounding Gaza and the Negev become scorched land, the back yard of the State of Israel. The law should be applied equally in Tel Aviv and on the Gaza border.”
Recent tensions on the Gaza border
Riots broke out on the Gaza border on Thursday amid several days of violent demonstrations in response to the continued closure of border crossings. During these riots, a Gazan gunman opened fire on Israeli forces, who returned fire and killed the assailant.
Michael Starr contributed to this report.
This is a developing story.