A day in the Gaza border region: fighting fires and sustaining life in the face of hardship.
With the launch of the first incendiary kite from Gaza on April 11, 2018, a new kind of terrorism began in the agricultural fields, forests, and nature reserves in the Gaza envelope region. Four months later, as the terror kites continue their work of destruction day after day, KKL-JNF teams in the south, together with firefighters and Israeli troops, keep up the fight. The residents of Israel’s southern region, keeping a strong hold on life, continue to hope and to work.

Four months after the launch of the first incendiary kites, with hundreds of fires, enormous damage to flora and fauna, destruction of Gaza border agriculture, and over 2,400 acres of burned forest, the kite terrorism continues on a daily basis. KKL-JNF firefighting teams keep up their work, fighting for every tree and every clod of burned soil. On August 1, 2018, we embarked on a day-long trip to the scorched land, visiting the residential communities and forests of the northern and western Negev, to see the damage caused by the fires and how residents cope in the shadow of this ongoing terrorism.
The landscapes that we saw were tinged with the yellow of summer and the black of the fires’ devastation. The acrid smell of smoke hit us from all directions while we were still on the road, and in the forests we could see the fire trucks, together with civilian and army vehicles and water tankers.
In the Negev, many things that we are used to thinking of as happy and safe have become threatening and sad — such as kites, balloons, and even school buildings.
The construction of a reinforced building for the Sha’ar Hanegev School, intended for the children of the eleven residential communities of the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, is being completed. Despite the difficulties of living here, the residential communities are growing, making it necessary to expand the regional school.
We entered the construction area, where the workers are putting the finishing touches on the school buildings. Special reinforced netting over the roof will prevent rockets from reaching the building. The computer room is located in the bomb shelter. An external classroom in the inner yard of the building is almost completed, and one can almost hear the joyful voices of children in the classrooms.
Wide dirt pathways wind around the buildings. It is hard to imagine them filled with greenery, as they soon will be.
The reinforced school building has been constructed to protect the children and enable them to maintain their regular routines even when rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip. In order to avoid a situation where the children are shut up in the building all day, and to enable them to enjoy exercise in the open air, KKL-JNF, with assistance from its friends all over the world, will do the landscaping work around the school buildings. The landscaping, which will benefit the children, their families, and the school staff, will include gardening, development, playground equipment and installations for providing shade.