Winds of war: will kite and balloon fires spark a major conflict in Gaza?

Since March 30 over 1,000 hectares of Israeli fields, forests and agricultural land have been ravaged by fires. They were caused not by rockets, bombs or other conventional forms of warfare, but by kites, balloons and inflated condoms lit and launched from the Gaza Strip.

These simple devices, not launched by the deadly Hamas terrorist group but by young children and teenagers, have confounded the IDF.

Palestinians have taken pieces of plastic – some with Hebrew writing, others with pictures of Palestinians killed by IDF fire – bound them to flexible wood from palm trees and attached burning embers or rags soaked in car oil, before launching them toward Israel.

Explosive balloons and condoms have also been launched toward Israel, and have landed on major highways and on trees in the college city of Sderot and other smaller Gaza vicinity communities.

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,” 30-year-old Rami 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 could come of them. But as more and more flew in and the fields and forests of southern Israel went up in flames, the IDF deployed drones to cut the cords of the kites and, according to Walla! News, called up reservists in the Home Front Command to battle the blazes alongside civilian firefighters.

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