Balloons over Israeli pre-school terrify children and teachers alike

“All children, get inside quickly,” screams a teacher as a suspected explosive balloon is spotted in the sky.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A kindergarten full of children was frightened Wednesday morning in Moshav Even Shmuel in Israel’s south by the sight of a bunch of balloons floating in the air, Hebrew media reported.

The moshav is located near Kiryat Gat, some 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the Gaza Strip, within the range of the explosive and arson balloons that Palestinian terrorists have recently been launching in waves at Israel.

Israeli media featured a video of a string of balloons floating above the pre-school.  A teacher can be heard  screaming, “All the children, get into the [building] quickly!” as children yell in the background.

Later, the teacher told Kan 11 News what happened.

“The children were playing in the yard,” she said. “I saw in the sky a bunch of colorful and beautiful balloons and I told the aides to help get the children into the kindergarten. They immediately came in, and went straight to the bomb shelter. There was no hysteria, we had a conversation and explained the differences between different balloons, when to approach them and when not to under no circumstances, even if the balloons look nice and carry our favorite cartoon characters.”

Balloons have been found carrying explosives hidden in innocent-seeming objects like a book or soccer ball, to tempt children to approach them. They have also carried undisguised warheads. Ynet reported that the terrorists threatened on Tuesday to start launching tear gas grenades as well.

Police inspected suspicious packages attached to balloons that landed closer to the Gaza Strip, in the Sderot and Netivot townships and the Eshkol region. Six were neutralized, but on Monday evening one detonated near a home on Kibbutz Kfar Aza, according to Ynet. No damage or injuried were reported.

Many balloons have also exploded in midair. So far no injuries have occurred.

On Wednesday, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) announced that it was reducing the Gaza Strip fishing zone from 15 to 10 nautical miles until further notice.

“The decision was made in light of continued rocket fire and incendiary balloons launched from Gaza into Israel, constituting a violation of Israeli sovereignty,” COGAT’s statement explained.

Gazan terrorists launched three rockets at Israel Tuesday night which landed in an open field near Netivot, causing no injuries or damage. The IDF struck several Hamas targets in Gaza in retaliation.