Falcon found near Gaza with flammable material attached by string

Parks officials say attached harness suggests bird may have been launched deliberately from Gaza to start fires in Israel

A falcon found dead in a tree, tied to an incendiary device, on July 16, 2018, near the Gaza border. (Nature and Parks Authority)
A falcon found dead in a tree, tied to an incendiary device, on July 16, 2018, near the Gaza border. (Nature and Parks Authority)

A falcon was discovered near the Gaza border on Monday with strings attached that contained flammable material.

The falcon was found dead, hanging by the attached string from a burned tree near the Nahal Habesor riverbed.

It was not immediately clear if the bird was launched from Gaza to spark fires in Israel, as Gazans have done hundreds of time in recent weeks with kites and balloons, or if the predatory animal attempted to attack a balloon or kite carrying an incendiary device and became ensnared in its attached strings.

The falcon was found on a day when firefighters battled 15 separate fires started by Gazan kites and balloons in the border region.

The knots of a string attached to a falcon that was found dead near the Gaza border on July 16, 2018. (Nature and Parks Authority)

Nature and Parks Authority officials who examined the bird said it wore a harness, suggesting it was a trained hunting bird, and strengthening speculation that it was deliberately sent to start fires, the Ynet news site reported.

Illustrative: A common falcon, or common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), photographed in Rajasthan, India on February 14, 2013. (Wikipedia/Dibyendu Ash/CC BY-SA)

The falcon is a common bird in Israel, and regularly attacks other birds in the air.

If it was deliberately sent to Israel from Gaza to start fires, it would mark the first time Gazans have used an animal to start such fires.

Israel has accused Gazans of using kites, balloons, drones and helium-filled condoms to launch incendiary devices into Israel.

Hundreds of fires have been started in southern Israel by the devices, burning thousands of acres of forest, farmland and brush over the past two months.

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