JNF to sue Hamas over kite terror

 

AP/Khalil Hamra

Palestinian terrorists launch a fire kite.

Palestinians from the Gaza Strip once again launched burning kites at civilian communities on the Israeli side of the border Tuesday, setting hundreds of dunams of farmland alight adjacent to Kibbutz Nir Am, Sapir College and Netiv Ha'Asara.

In response, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) announced Tuesday that it will sue Hamas in international legal court for the massive environmental damages inflicted on JNF land surrounding the Gaza border. The area has been hit hard in the last two months with rockets, mortar shells and incendiary kites sent from Gaza into Israeli territory.

JNF World Chairman, Daniel Atar, recently visited the area, commenting, "It is inconceivable that the international community would allow Hamas not to be held accountable and pay for its criminal acts; not only against the citizens of the state of Israel, but also against nature and the environment which have been severely hurt by this criminal environmental terrorism. Hamas has proved that they have no humanity; not just toward human beings, but also toward animals and natural resources," reported the Jerusalem Post.


To date, 265 fires have been observed since the arson kite phenomenon was introduced by Gaza rioters, burning close to 700 acres of JNF forests.

Ofer Liberman, the general manager of Nir Am's farming operation, said the kibbutz has sustained dozens of kite attacks over the past month, in addition to rocket and mortar attacks that have set fire to the kibbutz wheat fields in recent years. He said the attacks have cost the kibbutz more than NIS 1 million in economic damages, but added that the challenge here is far greater than dollars and cents.

"Look at this field," he told TPS while surveying the damage from the latest attack. "They burned about 50 dunams-that's about NIS 25,000 shekels in economic losses. But that can be made up with one shipment of wheat from Europe or the United States.

"The far more serious issue is the notion of Israel's sovereignty here. That's why the most important thing I do every morning is to raise the Israeli flag onto the tractors. I want the Palestinians to know and understand that we aren't going anywhere."

Despite the threat posed by burning kites, the community's steadfast commitment to developing the area cannot be shaken, with Nir Am currently building 45 new housing units. Liberman said the new homes have been completely taken by young families seeking membership in the kibbutz, meaning they see a long-term future here.


Still, kite terror is unlike the challenge that border communities have faced from cross-border missiles since the year 2000, for the simple fact that it appears to be undetectable until it is too late to stop the fires.

Standing in the community's garage, just 500 meters from the wheat field, there was no indication of an attack until Liberman looked over the road and saw a plume of black smoke rising. When we arrived less than five minutes later, the field was half-burned. Ten minutes later the thriving wheat crop had turned to ash.

 

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