Israel will form a special task force to combat Palestinian arson terrorism that has been wreaking havoc on Israeli communities adjacent to the Israel-Gaza Strip border, like reported by israelhayom.com.
Fire and Rescue Commissioner David Simchi announced the move on Sunday, saying the task force would be exclusively responsible for dealing with fires sparked by incendiary kites and firebomb balloons sent over the border.
Palestinian kite terrorism, which has been ravaging Gaza-vicinity communities since late April, has so far sparked 860 fires. Over 8,000 acres of forest and agricultural land on the Israeli side of the border have been decimated, causing millions of dollars in damage.
The Nature and Parks Authority said the fires have destroyed 25% of all nature reserves near the border. The damage to the area’s flora and fauna will take years to rehabilitate, it said.
The decision to establish the task force was made over the relentless nature of the kite campaign, which Hamas – the terrorist group that rules Gaza – refuses to curtail.
If anything, Hamas operatives have been trying to upgrade the kites to fly deeper into Israeli territory.
Fire and Rescue Services data indicates that there are five points along the 60-kilometer (37-mile) border between Gaza and Israel from where terrorists fly incendiary devices.
While fires near the border rage daily, the data also shows a decrease in the overall number of major blazes, which the Fire and Rescue Services attributes to the firefighters’ readiness on the ground as well as to the fact that, given the devastation in the area, new fires have fewer areas into which they can spread.
”The new task force will adapt to the dynamic nature of operations on the ground and will allow the teams currently deployed near the Gaza border to return to their normal missions,” Simchi said Sunday.
He noted that the task force will also coordinate wide-scale missions with the IDF, Israel Police, Jewish National Fund, Nature and Parks Authority and the heads of the local communities.
The border-vicinity area will be split into two sectors. Large firefighting teams will be assigned to each sector and they will have a variety of advanced measures at their disposal, including all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles recently purchased by the Public Security Ministry.
The new vehicles are equipped with special gear to carry water and flame retarding agents and are meant to be used as a first response ahead of the firefighters’ arrival at the scene.