Kite from Gaza sets fire to wheat field in Israel
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Kite from Gaza sets fire to wheat field in Israel

For fifth time in as many days, Palestinians send airborne Molotov cocktails across border

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Illustrative. Palestinians fly a kite as they gather at the border fence with Israel, east of Jabalia in the central Gaza city, during a protest on April 13, 2018. (AFP/Mohammed Abed)
Illustrative. Palestinians fly a kite as they gather at the border fence with Israel, east of Jabalia in the central Gaza city, during a protest on April 13, 2018. (AFP/Mohammed Abed)

A fire broke out in an Israeli wheat field outside the Gaza Strip Wednesday, caused by a kite bearing a container of flaming liquid, for the fifth time in as many days, according to the local fire department.

The kite touched down in a field near Kibbutz Be’eri, an Israeli community located some seven kilometers (4.3 miles) east of Gaza’s Bureij refugee camp.

Six teams of firefighters had contained the blaze and were working extinguish it, the fire department spokesperson said.

For the past six days, Palestinians in Gaza have made attempts to fly kites carrying burning cans of fuel into Israeli territory. The first attempt on Friday failed and the kite landed inside Gaza, but the rest have sparked fires in southern Israel.

Smoke and flames rise from fields near the Kibbutz Be’eri on the Israeli side of the border with the Gaza Strip east of Gaza City, after Palestinians flew a kite laden with a Molotov cocktail over the border before cutting the string leaving the burning material to fall in Israeli territory on April 17, 2018. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)

The kites were the latest phase in the ongoing tensions, which have seen Palestinians riot and protest along the Gaza security fence almost daily since March 30.

Fridays have been by far the most active days, with over 40,000 people taking part in the first protest, nearly 30,000 taking part in the second and approximately 10,000 participating in the third and most recent, according to the IDF’s figures.

The demonstrations have often included the burning of tires and Israeli flags, as well as Molotov cocktail attacks and rock-throwing.

As this month also marks the beginning of Israel’s dry season, an IDF spokesperson on Friday said the military was prepared for the possibility that fires might break out and had therefore coordinated with local fire departments and put firefighting planes on standby.

However, when asked specifically about the low-tech threat posed by kites carrying incendiary devices, the army offered scant details about its ability to combat the threat.

“The IDF is prepared and ready for various scenarios during the riots organized along the Gaza fence,” the army said in a statement.

On Monday, the local Eshkol regional council issued a stark warning to residents, telling them to be on alert for airborne arson attacks.

“In the last 24 hours, there have been several cases of kites flying with Molotov cocktails from the Strip to our territory,” the council said in a statement. “The public is asked to be alert and to report on any unusual incident of fires in the area.”

Last month, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) organized a “Kites of Hope” festival for over 1,000 Gazan schoolchildren from Khan Younis.

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