Palestinians in Gaza launch balloons carrying RPG warhead into Israel

A bunch of balloons attached to an incendiary device is prepared to be flown into Israel, near the Israel-Gaza border east of Al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, January 22, 2020. (Ail Ahmed/Flash90)

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip launched what appeared to be the warhead from a rocket-propelled grenade attached to balloons into southern Israel on Friday.

The suspected explosive was discovered in a field by Kibbutz Ruhama, northwest of Gaza and police sappers were called to inspect the RPG warhead, according to Hebrew media.

It was the sixth suspected airborne explosive device apparently launched from Gaza to be found in the south on Friday.

In one of the instances, Route 3 in the south of the country was temporarily closed while sappers dealt with a suspicious object that appeared to have become detached from balloons.

There were no reports of injuries or damage. Police called on the public to alert authorities to any suspicious-looking objects and refrain from approaching them.

Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip began flying explosive and incendiary devices into Israel using clusters of balloons and kites beginning in 2018. The practice has waxed and waned over that time, but has picked up considerably in recent weeks, with dozens of these balloon-borne bombs landing in towns and farming communities adjacent to the Palestinian enclave.

The Israel Defense Forces’ Home Front Command on Friday released a poem for children warning them against the dangers of the balloon-borne bombs flown from Gaza.

In addition to being attached to colorful balloons, some of these explosive devices have also been disguised as other child-friendly objects like books and soccer balls.

Few injuries have been caused by these airborne attacks, but they have caused extensive damage to Israeli agricultural fields, parks and forests, especially during the country’s dry summer months.

On Thursday, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi said the military would take a tougher stand against these airborne attacks, along with other types of terrorist activities.

The military and police have called on the public to alert authorities to any suspicious-looking objects and refrain from approaching them.

Recent weeks have seen a marked increase in the launching of these balloon-borne explosive devices, with many being sent into southern Israel each day, apparently at the direction of the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group. The past week also saw near-daily rocket and mortar attacks on southern Israel, which caused neither injury nor damage.

In response to the launches, all of which have struck open fields in southern Israel, the IDF has conducted airstrikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli defense officials believe that the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group is trying to increase pressure on Israel in a bid to extract greater concessions in ongoing ceasefire negotiations.

Fears have also mounted in recent days of an escalation of violence in Gaza and the West Bank following the release last week of a US peace plan that is seen as heavily favoring Israel.