The two incendiary kites that landed Monday in the vineyard of the Tura Winery near the settlement of Har Bracha on Mount Gerizim looked like broken children’s toys as they lay on the brown, stony hillside south of Nablus.
But they sparked the question of whether Hamas’ tactic of launching incendiary devices at southern Israel from Gaza would be adopted by Palestinians in the West Bank. Security sources and Yesha Council security head Shlomo Vaknin said that flaming kites and balloons were unlikely to become a West Bank phenomenon.The wind patterns in Judea and Samaria, as well as the close proximity of Palestinians and Israelis, make such attacks prohibitive, Vaknin said.The wind is just as likely to blow the incendiary objects into Palestinian areas as it is to push them into Israeli ones, he said. In contrast, the wind in Gaza almost always blows eastward from the Mediterranean Sea toward Israel, he added.Israeli-farmed fields in Judea and Samaria are more likely to be targeted by on-the-ground vandalism and arson than by flying objects, Vaknin said.Security sources added that these objects were a toned-down version of the Gaza kites. Only a small portion of the kite was burned and the flame had already gone out by the time it landed.Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan said that, “based on inspections by the security forces, this was a ridiculous attempt by the Arabs in the area to harm the region and its the agricultural fields.”‘In contrast to the Gaza envelope, Samaria’s topography [dictates] that anyone who releases a burning kite here will likely only harm local Arab fields,” Dagan said.“We are not afraid. The settlements are stronger than ever, and will continue to develop and grow,” he added.Vered Ben-Sa’adon, who together with her husband runs the Tura Winery, said August is grape-harvest season.According to the winery’s spokesperson, the company has 56 hectares (140 acres) of land and produces 100,000 bottles of wine annually. It also has olive groves, pressing a ton of olive oil annually.Their Mount Gerezim vineyard is located above the Palestinian city of Nablus, which includes the ruins of biblical Shechem.Aiming to avoid the midday heat, workers arrived in the fields at 3 a.m., she said. Her husband Erez found the kites at 8 o’clock.“It was fairly clear what they were,” Vered said, adding that she hoped this was an isolated incident.The Palestinians, she said, are always changing their tactics, “but I hope this will be the end of it.”
Fires near the Gaza Strip from Hamas terror kites, July 16, 2018 (Israel Parks and Nature Authority)