June 29 (UPI) — Israeli firefighters fought several new fires Friday, sparked by what the government believes are Hamas balloons carrying disguised explosive devices over the border.
The fires and Palestinian demonstrations Friday along the Gaza border followed an agreement by Israel to expand the Gaza fishing zone and restart fuel deliveries to the region. Hamas, in exchange, promised to keep its protests against Israel peaceful.
Israel had stopped fuel shipments Tuesday after similar balloons helped start more than 100 fires. The government also established a maritime blockade in the area two weeks ago.
Yisrael Beytenu Party leader Avigdor Liberman blamed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas for the continued attacks after the agreement.
“Hamas members thanked Benjamin Netanyahu for the reprieves he’s given them as part of a tendentious submission agreement from us, and have sent residents of the State of Israel a huge cluster of balloons with an explosive charge,” Liberman said on Facebook.
Human rights groups had condemned Israeli stopping fuel shipments to Gaza as a collective punishment against Palestinians as a whole, instead of targeting the perpetrators. They similarly criticized the maritime blockade as punishing fishermen for the balloon attack.