“Fire kites”  and “fire balloons” launched from Gaza into Israel in the past few months have caused multiple fires on a daily basis in the region bordering the Gaza Strip. Since April 2018, hundreds of these kites and balloons, which carry a burning rag or an explosive device, have been launched over the border in the direction of Israeli towns and kibbutzim, and have burned more than 30,000 acres of cultivated fields, forest and nature reserves in the Western Negev.

According to reports, the kite terror is carried out under the direction of Hamas and with this movement’s assistance and encouragement. Hamas’s military wing, the ‘Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, posted on its website a video explaining how to make fire kites, as well as reports praising this activity.

Moreover, one of the kite-launching units is called the Bani Al-Zawari unit, after engineer Muhammad Al-Zawari, an Al-Qassam Brigades member who developed drones for Hamas and was killed in Tunisia in 2016. In a July 1 announcement, the unit pledged to increase the launching of fire balloons and stated: “We will not allow this enemy and its usurpers feel safe until our people feel safe in Gaza …”

Video on Hamas website shows how to make fire kites (alqassam.net, April 24, 2018)
Palestinian in Gaza making a fire kite (alqudsnews.net, May 2, 2018)

This new form of terror sparked a debate in the Arab press, with Palestinian and Arab writers praising the Palestinian youths who launch the kites.

Ignoring the destructive and potentially lethal character of this activity, articles in the Palestinian, Jordanian and Egyptian press describe it as an ingenious and effective form of “non-violent protest” and “popular resistance” that has managed to confound Israel despite the latter’s superior technology and military might. The articles also describe the Israeli communities targeted by the kites as “settlements,” although they are not in the occupied territories.

Read the full MEMRI report here.