Explosive balloons were spotted over Sapir Academic College near Sderot on Monday, according to Israeli media. An explosive charge attached to the balloons reportedly detonated in the air, but the balloons continued to travel and are being tracked by security officials.A balloon landed at the Amdocs Factory in Sderot shortly afterwards. It is unclear if this is the same balloon as the one spotted over Sapir College. Another balloon was found shortly afterwards in a field near the town of Saad in southern Israel.
Except for sporadic balloon launches
in September, the launches had largely stopped since a ceasefire was reached between Hamas and Israel at the end of August after weeks of daily explosive and incendiary balloon launches and rocket fire.
In response to the balloon launches in August, Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
and Defense Minister and Benny Gantz, warned that such launches would be met with “forceful” responses.
The reports of the balloons on Monday came as tensions rose
between terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip and Israel, as the terrorist groups threatened action if the health condition of Maher al-Akhras, a PIJ operative hunger striking in Israel for about 92 days, becomes too dire or he dies.
Akhras has been in administrative detention for months. He denies being a member of PIJ and has been arrested multiple times in the past, according to WAFA.
Israel has said that Akhras is a member of Islamic Jihad who poses a danger to the state, though it was unclear if the accusation was related to carrying out actual violence or some kind of recruiting or incitement relating to the group.
The death of a Palestinian teenager on Sunday during a pursuit by IDF forces also garnered condemnations and threats from the terrorist groups. While the IDF reported that the boy fainted and died without soldiers coming into contact with him, Palestinian officials claimed that IDF forces beat him to death.
Anna Ahronheim, Yonah Jeremy Bob and Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.
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