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Southern Israel Ablaze in August

ICEJ provides fire-fighting equipment along the Gaza border

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Posted on: 
28 Aug 2020
Southern Israel Ablaze in August

 

 

 

It is a beautiful blue-sky day with only a slight breeze. But wait, what is that in the distance? Coming closer… balloons, balloons, and more balloons gently floating through the air. The bright, colorful kind normally used for joyful occasions. But not this time, and certainly not for Israelis living near the Gaza border!

Sadly, as you read this, terrorists from Gaza are inflating balloons, attaching fire-bomb devices to them, and waiting for the sea breeze coming off the Mediterranean to carry them eastward across the border to sow destruction in nearby Israeli communities.

The Gazans who send them watch with glee as the incendiary balloons land in the farmlands of southern Israel, and set the fields and orchards alight. The month of August is the peak of the summer dry season in Israel, and the southwest trade winds pick up every day. Conditions are perfect for wildfires to ignite and spread quickly. It is hard to imagine the tension of living like this – not knowing where the next fire will start, or whether your child will be drawn to the colorful fire balloons or the kites laden with explosives that could detonate in their hands.

This is the third summer now that Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza have been using this twisted tactic to scorch the fields and orchards of their Israeli neighbors. The local security chiefs in southern Israel have had their hands full over the past month as the use of fire kites and balloons has jumped dramatically. In the Sha’ar HaNegev region, first responders have faced more than 425 brush fires in the last two weeks alone. Meanwhile in the adjacent Eshkol region, security officer Elan Isaacson confirmed that they too are experiencing 25 to 30 fires a day!

“Beautiful forests and nature reserves being ruined,” Isaacson told ICEJ. “Pomegranate and avocado orchards have been destroyed.”

For the local Israeli farmers, this is a devasting loss of the fruit of their labors. Pomegranate trees take at least two to three years to bear fruit and another seven months for the fruit to mature. The pomegranate also is an important symbol for the upcoming Jewish holidays of Rosh HaShana and Sukkot. And the loss of the avocado harvest is heart-breaking, as these fruit trees take up to six or seven years to bear fruit.

When these acts of arson first began in 2018, the ICEJ was asked to help the affected Israeli communities combat the fires destroying their livelihoods. Thanks to our many generous Christian donors, we were able to provide 18 fire-fighting trailers and five specially-equipped ATVs to the towns and villages along the Gaza border.

The fire-trailers are each equipped with a large water tank, pump, generator and hoses which can be hooked to 4x4 vehicles so they can reach all kinds of terrain. The ATVs also have similar fire-fighting equipment, and are quicker and even more agile to get to the back of the fields and orchards within minutes. These fire-fighter trailers and ATVs are now stationed every two kilometers or so along the Gaza border. And they are being put to daily and even hourly use to fight the on-going rash of fires started by incendiary balloons.

“It is so gratifying to know that all this fire-fighting equipment we provided over recent years in being put to such good use every day,” said Nicole Yoder, ICEJ Vice President for Aid and Aliyah. “Our donations have enabled these communities to respond in real-time whenever emergencies arise, strengthening our friends and helping bring a sense of security to those living so close to danger.”

There is still a need for more fire-fighting trailers and other emergency equipment which will enable the local first responders to protect their fields and families even better. So please consider giving to our Israel in Crisis fund.

Your prayers also are greatly appreciated, as many of the fire-fighters and security officials in the region are near exhaustion due to the need to stay on a constant high alert for the fires.

So please pray! And also give your best gift today to the ICEJ’s Israel in Crisis fund.

Donate at: icej.org/crisis 
 


Support the extensive ongoing work and witness of the ICEJ by helping us fund our core activities in fulfilling our mandate to support Israel, connect the church, provide education and promote justice.

Donations allow us to maintain funding for emergency projects, and embark on new initiatives to support Israel in these critical days.

Thank you for your ongoing support of ICEJ Canada!


 

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