Israelis try to fly flaming kite into Gaza, start fire near kibbutz

Three men detained, derided as ‘extremists’ and ‘idiots’ by opposition MK; one activist claims stunt was a joke to ‘amuse’ local residents

Three Israelis were detained by IDF troops Friday after they attempted to fly a flaming kite toward Gaza and filmed their actions.

The kite fell short of the border and sparked a fire near Kibbutz Nahal Oz.

Police said the fire was extinguished and the three were handed over for questioning.

Right-wing activist Ran Karmi Buzaglo was one of those involved. He later claimed the video clip was staged as a joke “to amuse and boost the morale of local residents.”

He said the kite had only caused a small fire which had not been intended.

Zionist Union MK Amir Peretz tweeted: “There are extremists and there are idiots. The worst is a mix of the two.”

Yesh Atid MK Haim Jelin, a former mayor of the nearby Eshkol regional council, condemned the attack.

“An Israeli Jew came in the last few minutes with a burning kite and wanted to fly it into Gaza,” he tweeted. “In the end, he burned the fields of Nahal Oz and endangered the IDF. I strongly condemn such extreme phenomena on both sides. We have an army that protects us.”

Earlier a kite from Gaza carrying flammable material started a fire in fields near Kibbutz Am, close to the border.

A Palestinian was reportedly injured by IDF fire as he was launching the burning kite toward Israel. It would be the first known IDF shooting of a Palestinian kite flyer.

Israeli firefighters attempt to extinguish a fire in a wheat field near the Kibbutz of Nahal Oz, along the border with the Gaza strip, on May 8, 2018 after it was caused by incendiaries tied to kites flown by Palestinian protesters from across the border. (AFP/Menahem Kahana)

The tactic, in which a Molotov cocktail is attached to a kite and sent flying over the border into Israel, caused its largest blaze yet on Wednesday, with one fire consuming dozens of acres of grasslands and agricultural fields and burning for six hours near Kibbutz Be’eri despite the best efforts of ten firefighting teams.

For the past several weeks, Gazans have been regularly flying kites outfitted with containers of burning fuel, often including charcoal and bags of sugar to ensure a long, slow burn.

The tactic was introduced as part of the “March of Return” demonstrations at the border fence, which began on March 30 and are due to continue through mid-May.

The mass protests are being encouraged by the terror group Hamas, which rules Gaza, and whose leaders say their goal is the erase the border and “liberate Palestine.”

With the number of kite attacks now reaching as many as 15 per day, military planners have begun to consider new measures to end the practice, including options drawn from the IDF’s responses to rocket launches and other terror attacks.

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