Twenty-nine fires erupted in Israeli communities ‎near the Gaza Strip border in a single day this week, as Palestinian ‎arson terrorism continued to wreak havoc near the ‎volatile frontier. ‎

One incendiary balloon sent over the Gaza border ‎landed on a parked vehicle in the Eshkol Regional ‎Council, damaging its roof. No injuries were ‎reported in the incident.‎

Sdot Negev Regional Council head Tamir Idan leveled ‎harsh criticism at the government over what he ‎called its tolerance of the situation. ‎

‎“Frankly, I’m very concerned by the government’s ‎inaction. Especially given the promises made to us ‎during their [ministers’] recent meetings with the ‎local council heads. ‎

‎“This type of prolonged inaction is perceived by the ‎other side as a serious weakness. Hamas continues to ‎dictate reality on the ground and we keep being ‎dragged behind it,” he said.‎

Various ministers visited the Gaza-vicinity ‎communities over the past few weeks, each saying ‎that Israel will not tolerate arson terrorism as the ‎norm near the border. ‎

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who visited ‎Kibbutz Or Haner, some 3.7 kilometers (2.3 ‎miles) from ‎Gaza, last week, warned that ‎“if we have Color Red [rocket alerts] ‎here, Gaza will turn deep ‎red, too.”‎

‎“We would prefer not to be dragged into war, and ‎‎we’re doing everything we can to avoid a large ‎‎operation, but the ball is not in our court. I ‎‎highly recommend Hamas be wise about it,” said Lieberman. ‎

Idan demanded the government “live up to its ‎statements that kite and balloon terrorism would be ‎treated like rocket fire.”

Several ministers have urged the IDF to target arson ‎terrorism cells directly, as it does terrorist ‎firing rockets at Israel, but military officials ‎have been wary of the move, saying that targeting ‎incendiary kite and balloon cells, which mostly ‎comprise teens, would lead to a rapid security ‎escalation.‎

The terrorist arson campaign, launched in late ‎‎‎‎April, has so far decimated nearly 10,000 acres of ‎‎‎forest ‎and farmlands on the Israeli side of the ‎‎‎border. Incendiary kites and balloons have caused ‎‎‎millions of dollars in damage to the area over the ‎‎‎past three months and environmental experts ‎say it ‎‎‎will take at least 15 years to rehabilitate ‎the ‎‎‎vegetation and wildlife that have been destroyed.‎

Source: World Israel News