Footage showing the aftermath of an incendiary-balloon attack from Gaza on the fields of Kibbutz Nir Oz has emerged, as local volunteer and professional firefighters have been rushing to put out at least four spot fires in the Eshkol Region in the past 48 hours.

Eshkol Council Security Officer Ilan Isaacson said local volunteers stepped in to provide assistance while professional firefighters were called to blazes in other locations.

“We are grateful for the specialized, critical-response fire wagons that allow us to support the professional firefighters,” he said. “The smaller size of our equipment enables us to access areas where larger firetrucks cannot go, like in the fields and near creeks.”

Although the smaller wagons—provided by the Jewish National Fund-USA—hold less water than the municipality’s larger firetrucks, they allow volunteers to fight multiple fires at once.

“There were two critical-response fire wagons at [Monday’s] scene,” said Isaacson, referring to one of the fires on June 15. “Each contains 35 cubic feet of water. The regular firetrucks in the municipal station can hold 100 cubic feet. Rather than bringing one large firetruck to multiple locations, volunteers and their wagons can attend to multiple fires at once—an important capability in a largely rural area.”

While the world’s attention has been focused on the coronavirus and protests against racism, terrorists in the Gaza Strip have continued to send incendiary devices into Israel.

“Nothing has stopped,” laments Isaacson. “Hamas and Islamic Jihad continue to train day and night, while they conduct more and more missile tests.”

Right now, he added, “the terrorists are using balloons; however, they change strategies depending on their intention. Whether it’s demonstrations along the border or firing missiles at Israeli towns, nothing has stopped. It may be quieter due to corona, but we are always ready to face fires, missiles or whatever they try to throw our way.”

Recent dry weather has exacerbated concerns over Israel’s upcoming fire season.

JNF-USA just donated 28 firetrucks, on top of the 200 donated to date.

“For us, it’s not just about extinguishing fires,” said Jewish National Fund-USA Fire and Rescue Taskforce chairs Penny Rosen and Mark Egerman. “It’s about our commitment to first responders as we create an ecosystem of amenities and services that allows those living outside of Israel’s central cities to have world-class facilities, such as medical centers, parks and schools. While Israel faces many threats along its southern border, we are determined to create a positive, prosperous future for the children and families of the Negev.”

© 2020 American Jewish Congress.