Firefighters Grapple With Arson as Resilience Centers Ramp Up in Southern Israel

A part of a wheat field goes in flames after Palestinians in Gaza sent incendiary balloons over the border near Nir Am, southern Israel May 9, 2021. Picture taken with a drone. REUTERS/Amir Cohen – Rapid Action Fire Vehicles, fire wagons and local resilience centers kicked into action on Monday evening after 70 rockets and a wave of incendiary “terror balloons” from the Gaza Strip targeted Israeli communities in the Eshkol region and Gaza Envelope

Michal Uziyahu, director of Eshkol Region Community Centers, said, “we have had a rough day after the unrest in Jerusalem. As usual, we were the first ones to receive the ‘outcomes’ of the security situation. We had a lot of rocket attacks last evening. At the same time, a lot of fires were ignited around our area.”

Eshkol Council Security Officer Ilan Isaacson reported that “thanks to the effective cooperation between all of the agencies involved, full control of all the fires was achieved quickly, and only minor damage was done to a wheat field. The council’s security personnel, together with the fire brigade, have dealt with seven fires that broke out in the council’s area.”

School classes and all informal education activities scheduled to take place on Tuesday in the Gaza envelope and Eshkol region were cancelled.

Betsy Fischer, chair of Jewish National Fund-USA (JNF-USA)’s Gaza Envelope Task Force, said “the return of incendiary balloons and rocket attacks in southern Israel is nothing less than disturbing and heartbreaking. Members of our task force are in touch with our friends and family in the region, and we hear firsthand and in real time how scary life is for them right now.”

She stressed that “we are determined to continue our support for the region—not only because blast-proof safe spaces provide shelter for community operations and personal counseling, but so residents of the Gaza envelope know that they are not alone.”

In addition to funding firefighters and vehicles, JNF-USA supports resilience centers, housing-site development infrastructure, fortified playgrounds and medical centers throughout southern Israel.

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