Firebomb-laden kite causes huge blaze along Gaza border

Strong winds make it difficult for firefighters to control fires burning through trees and scrub near Kissufim

A fire caused by incendiary kites from Gaza burns near Kibbutz Kissufim on May 25, 2018. (Screen capture: Twitter)
A fire caused by incendiary kites from Gaza burns near Kibbutz Kissufim on May 25, 2018. (Screen capture: Twitter)

Strong winds hampered efforts to control fires which broke out at three points near Kibbutz Kissufim along the Gaza border Friday after incendiary kites were flown into Israel from the Palestinian coastal enclave.

Video filmed by the Jewish National Fund showed a huge fire burning its way through trees and foliage.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

By late afternoon, fire services said they brought the blazes under control.

In recent weeks, Gazans have been flying kites into Israel outfitted with Molotov cocktails and containers of burning fuel, setting fire to large swaths of fields.

The tactic was introduced as part of the weekly “March of Return” demonstrations at the border fence, which began on March 30 and came to a head last Monday when the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem and at least 60 Palestinians were killed in clashes, a majority of them Hamas members, the terror group has acknowledged.

Since March 30, tens of thousands of Palestinians have taken part in the weekly protests, which Israel says are orchestrated by Hamas and used as cover for attempted terror attacks and breaches of the border fence.

[mappress mapid=”6370″]

The violent demonstrations were meant to end on May 15, but Hamas leaders have said they want them to continue.

The largest blaze yet sparked by the firebomb-bearing kites happened two weeks ago near Kibbutz Be’eri, an Israeli community located some seven kilometers (4.3 miles) east of Gaza’s Bureij refugee camp. The fire took over six hours to extinguish and consumed dozens of dunams of grasslands and agricultural fields in the area.

Military planners have begun implementing new measures to combat the assaults, including options drawn from the IDF’s responses to rocket launches and other terror attacks.

Illustrative: Palestinian protesters fly a kite with a burning rag dangling from its tail, during a protest at the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, April 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Specialized IDF drones designed to destroy the burning kites midair were used successfully for the first time during last Friday’s protests, Walla news reported. An IDF official told the news website that the drones destroyed over 40 burning kites throughout the border demonstrations.

Hadashot news reported earlier this month that the IDF is considering retaliating for kite launches with airstrikes against Hamas infrastructure, as it does each time a rocket is launched from Gaza toward Israel. It is also considering deploying special ground-based snipers to target those on the ground in Gaza launching the kites.

One of the Palestinians who launched a burning kite last week was reportedly shot by IDF snipers.

The IDF has warned Gazans against sending blazing kites over the border, saying Israel would not tolerate the “arson phenomenon.”

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed
Register for free
and continue reading
Registering also lets you comment on articles and helps us improve your experience. It takes just a few seconds.
Already registered? Enter your email to sign in.
Please use the following structure: [email protected]
Or Continue with
By registering you agree to the terms and conditions. Once registered, you’ll receive our Daily Edition email for free.
Register to continue
Or Continue with
Log in to continue
Sign in or Register
Or Continue with
check your email
Check your email
We sent an email to you at .
It has a link that will sign you in.