Gaza terror: How condoms became a weapon against Israel

Two years of explosive condoms launched from Gaza towards Israel has left the powerful IDF perplexed.

Gaza terrorist balloons found in Israel. (photo credit: ISRAEL POLICE)
Gaza terrorist balloons found in Israel.
(photo credit: ISRAEL POLICE)
Two years after Palestinians first started launching flaming kites and other improvised explosive devices (IEDs) like condoms and balloons into the South, the phenomenon has yet to abate.
It started with kites with burning rags or embers attached to them. Three months later, booby-trapped balloons and condoms began to be carried east toward the South, carried by winds coming off the Mediterranean Sea.
While the use of kites – a popular Middle Eastern pastime – seems to have disappeared, scores of balloons and condoms with explosive devices attached to them continue to land in schoolyards, agricultural fields and highways.
Israel’s defense establishment does not use the word “condoms.” It’s not the most politically correct word. Instead, it refers to all the aerial IEDs, including condoms, as “balloons.”
Though condoms or balloons bearing messages of “Happy Birthday” or “I ❤️ You” flying through the air may sound silly, the hard truth is that these primitive devices have wreaked havoc, burning thousands of hectares of land and causing millions of shekels of damage.
Not to mention the real fear of parents who are constantly concerned about their children picking up these innocent-looking explosive toys and prophylactics. On Wednesday, children in a kindergarten near Kiryat Gat were instructed to run for shelter after their teacher noticed a cluster of suspicious balloons drifting nearby.
Imagine had those colorful balloons exploded in the schoolyard full of children.
At the beginning of the condom and balloon terrorism campaign, the aerial bombs drifted only a short distance from where they had been launched. Recently, however, Gazans have been increasing the range of their death toys by tying together multiple condoms and balloons for added buoyancy.
Two weeks ago several balloons with a rocket-propelled grenade attached were discovered close to a gas station by security staff at the Midreshet Ben-Gurion educational center near Sde Boker, 70 km. from the blockaded coastal enclave.
“We confirm that a suspicious object landed in an open area south of the Negev region. Bomb disposal experts are at the scene. No injuries or damage caused. Bomb disposal experts continue to patrol the South and respond to any suspicious objects or balloons that have fallen,” Mickey Rosenfeld, Israel Police spokesman, told The Jerusalem Post at the time.
While no damage or injuries occurred, one can only imagine the carnage had that RPG exploded.
Condoms in Gaza are generally supplied by either local Palestinian organizations or through international programs. The helium used to fill them up, which is intended for medical purposes, including operating MRI machines, is imported into the Gaza Strip with Israel’s approval.
When first faced with the explosive condom threat, Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories limited the import of condoms, balloons and helium into the Hamas-run coastal enclave. The ban remains in place.
A COGAT official told the Post that the items are considered as dual-use, and goods such as these require permits to be allowed into the Gaza Strip. Since they are no longer allowed to cross from Israel, it is believed that they are being imported from Egypt into Gaza through the Rafah crossing.
But two years later the South continues to be plagued by explosive condoms.
The balloons and condoms have proven difficult to shoot down and have confounded politicians and military officials alike. Israel’s famed Iron Dome missile defense system is useless against such lightweight weapons.
Israel has fought three wars with Hamas and its terrorist allies in the coastal enclave, but both the government and military understand that it’s a hard sell to launch another military campaign because of condoms.
Instead, the military has been responding to these IEDs by retaliatory strikes against Hamas targets and by reducing the allowed fishing zone off the Gazan coast.
There is, however, no military solution to this burning problem.
Durex should be proud.