IDF unveils new system to defeat arson balloons from Gaza

The IDF says it has improved its system to battle arson attacks from the Gaza Strip.

By World Israel News Staff

On Thursday, the IDF’s Gaza Division presented a system they developed to better cope with the fire balloon threat from Gaza, Makor Rishon reports.

The IDF says that by analyzing the data it has come up with a more effective way of fighting the fires and reducing damage. The first step is understanding wind direction. The army says this enables the firefighters to reach the source of the blaze sooner.

The army also employs observers, who identify the balloons as soon as they’re launched from the Strip. There is then an effort to intercept the balloons before they cross the border into Israel. If that fails, local firefighting crews are directed to the blaze while it’s still in its early stages.

The military has also set up a special situation room dedicated to dealing with the arson threat.

Statistics that the IDF released appear to bear out its claims that its improved system is working. In 2018, there were an average of nine fires a day that that number rising to 30 during times of crisis between Israel and Hamas. In 2019, the number is two a day with 10 fires during times of crisis.

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The extent of the damage has dropped dramatically as a result. In 2019, 1,400 dunams (345 acres) of open area were burned. In 2018, 34,000 dunams (8,400 acres) were destroyed.

The terror group Hamas began launching incendiary devices into Israel in April 2018 – first with kites and then balloons. The low-technology weapons have managed to stymie Israel’s Defense Forces, causing widespread damage to farmland and nature reserves.

The news will likely be welcome to the Netanyahu government, which has been the target of  criticism from opposition parties over its failure to stop the arson attacks.

At the end of June, Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz said during a tour of one of the burnt fields in Israel’s south, “Netanyahu is filling up Hamas’s fire balloons with helium.”

“If there is no strong response, there is no deterrence. If there is no deterrence, there is no calm,” he said.