Hamas is responsible for kite terrorism and these are not random acts by Gazan children and young adults, the IDF revealed on Sunday.
Arson terrorism – the phenomenon where firebombs are attached to kites and balloons and launched from the coastal enclave into Israeli territory and through which large areas of Israeli land around the Gaza Strip have been destroyed – is part of carefully planned acts of terror, the IDF spokesperson explained.
Specifying the mode of operation, the IDF spokesperson said that Hamas commanders order the launch of such kites and balloons, as well as oversee and direct their manufacturing.
The Hamas operatives who receive the orders produce the kites and balloons and then attach firebombs that they receive from Hamas resources. Kite production is carried out in a serial fashion and in large quantities.
Once the production is completed, the kites and balloons are launched from strategic points in the Gaza Strip in order to inflict as much damage to Israeli land as possible.
“This is terrorism directed against the population of Israel, against Israeli agriculture and nature. The IDF is acting intensively against these terror cells,” an IDF statement read. “We will not allow terrorism to pose a threat to the residents of Israel and our territory.”
Since March 30, over 1,000 hectares of Israeli fields, forests and agricultural land have been ravaged by fires. They were caused by kites, balloons and inflated condoms lit and launched from the Gaza Strip.
The IDF has been firing warning shots at Gazans launching incendiary kites, as firefighters in Israel have been fighting the blazes ignited by these devices.
According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, the idea of incendiary kites came after a Palestinian organizer saw “a kite with the Palestinian flag attached to its tail lying on the other side of the fence.
“We thought that maybe it could carry something else, like a Molotov cocktail, but realized it wasn’t practical,” a 30-year-old Palestinian was quoted by the paper as saying.
“Then we got the idea of setting it aflame... by the time we managed to develop the flame and people saw scenes of the burning fields on the other side, the guys got excited.”
When the kites first started to appear in Israeli skies, the army allowed them to land, unsure what damage they could inflict.
According to Walla News, as more and more landed and the fields and forests of the South went up in flames, the IDF deployed drones to cut the cords of the kites. Reservists in the Home Front Command have been called up to battle the blazes alongside civilian firefighters.
While the damage caused by these devices has been contained to fields, forests and wildlife – with no human casualties so far – public pressure is mounting on the Israeli government and IDF to respond.
Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.
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