Hamas threatens to launch 5,000 fire kites, balloons Friday

Hamas on Thursday threatened to send 5,000 fire kites and balloons deep into Israeli territory on Friday, when the Gaza border will see another of the weekly “March of Return” mass protests, Palestinian and Israeli media reported.

The Palestinian terror group, the de facto ruler in the Strip, said at a press conference that the incendiary devices will be launched from various locations in Gaza during the protest, which will also mark the first day of the Eid al-Fitr Muslim holiday.

Hamas’s “kite unit” said that if Jerusalem “doesn’t make use of the opportunity we are giving it” to end the Gaza siege, Israeli communities near the enclave would “live under a siege of kites,” which it claimed would reach a range of 40 kilometers inside Israel.

The comment seemed to be a reference to reported indirect talks between Israel and Hamas for a long-term ceasefire in exchange for an end to the blockade on Gaza, which Israel maintains to keep Hamas and other terror groups in the Strip from building up military capabilities.

Since March 30, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have launched hundreds of kites and helium balloons bearing flammable materials, and occasionally explosives, into Israeli territory, sparking near-daily fires.

The use of 5,000 balloons and kites simultaneously would prove a major challenge for the army, which has struggled to find a solution to neutralize the threat. Aside from drones used to fishhook the devices out of the sky, the army has also begun firing warning shots at Gazans when it sees them about to launch kites and balloons.

Also Thursday, the IDF said it fired a warning shot at a group of Palestinians who were preparing to launch an incendiary helium balloon toward Israel.

This was the second time in less than 24 hours that Israel shot at Gazans as they attempted to start fires in Israeli territory with airborne arson devices. There were no reports of injuries in either of the Israeli strikes.

Read More: Times of Israel