Palestinians Use Burning Kites As Weapons Against Israel on Gaza Border

The Israeli army has responded with drones that can slash kite strings in mid-air.Getty Images/Reuters
Palestinians prepare a fire bomb to be attached to a kite before trying to fly it over the border fence with Israel, on the eastern outskirts of Gaza City on April 20, 2018.Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

Palestinians are sending kites dangling coal embers or burning rags across the Gaza border to set fire to farmland and forests, in a new tactic the Israeli army has been tackling with drones for interception.

"It began spontaneously. As long as there is occupation in the Gaza Strip and in our occupied land these kites will be sent almost daily until the occupation goes down or fulfills our demands," said Shadi, one of five Palestinian teenagers preparing kites with fabric dipped in diesel and lubricant oil in a Gaza field.

At least 124 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops during mass demonstrations along the Gaza border since March 30, and the men sending the kites over the fence believe they have found an effective new weapon.

No one has been hurt by the fires, but some 2,250 acres of fields and nature reserves, already parched after a dry winter, have been burned by flames stoked by Mediterranean winds. This has caused $2.5 million in damage, Israel's government said.

The Israeli army has fitted larger surveillance drones with weighted fishing lines or blades that can snag or slash kite strings in mid-air.

The army has also drafted in civilian drone enthusiasts as army reservists, instructing them to fly their remote-controlled aircraft into the kites.

"If their drone ends up getting lost in the process, we compensate them," an Israeli general said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

But he acknowledged the limitations of such measures, saying: "We'll probably end up having to shoot kite-flyers too."

On June 8, Israeli troops killed four Palestinians and wounded hundreds of others with live fire or tear gas used against protesters at the Gaza border, medics said, while Israel said militants had attacked its forces with guns and grenades.

Israel, with U.S. support, has described the protests as a ploy by Hamas to breach its border, and says that its lethal tactics have been necessary to prevent that.

There have been no Israeli casualties from the more than two months of confrontations along the Gaza border.

Photos from the scene show the fragile kites contrasting with the hi-tech Israeli drones. Nevertheless, the kites have managed to wreak havoc on the Israeli side of the border, leaving charred fields and trees where they land.

—Reuters contributed to this report

Palestinians prepare an incendiary device attached to a kite before trying to fly it over the border fence with Israel, on the eastern outskirts of Jabalia, on May 4, 2018.Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images
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. Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images
A Palestinian protester wearing a Guy Fawkes mask coloured with the Palestinian flag poses while holding a wirecutter on June 8, 2018 during a demonstration along the Israel-Gaza border fence east of Jabalia in the central Gaza Strip. Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images
A wounded Palestinian protester is evacuated near the border fence with Israel, east of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza Strip on April 20, 2018.Photo by Said Khatib / AFP
A drone is flown by Israeli soldiers trying to intercept Palestinian kites and balloons loaded with flammable materials in an area where such devices have caused blazes on the Israeli side of the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, near Kissufim, Israel, June 5, 2018. Reuters/Amir Cohen
Palestinians prepare a fire bomb attached to a kite before trying to fly it over the border fence with Israel, in Rafah in southern Gaza Strip on April 20, 2018.Said Khatib / AFP / Getty Images
Palestinians prepare an incendiary device to be attached to a kite before trying to fly it over the border fence with Israel, on the eastern outskirts of Gaza City on April 20, 2018.Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images
A firefighter stands in burnt scrubland in an area where Palestinians have been causing blazes by flying kites and balloons loaded with flammable materials, on the Israeli side of the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, near kibbutz Nir Am, June 5, 2018. Reuters/Amir Cohen
A journalist has her picture taken with a kite that was intercepted by an Israeli drone near the border between Israel and Gaza during a protest on the Gaza side June 8, 2018. Reuters/Amir Cohen
Israeli firefighters and soldiers attempts to extinguish a fire in a wheat field next to the border with Gaza after it was caused by incendiaries tied to kites flown by Palestinian protesters from across the border, on May 15, 2018 in Nahal Oz, Israel. Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images
Palestinians prepare to set kites on fire to be thrown at the Israeli side at a protest demanding the right to return to their homeland, at the Israel-Gaza border in the southern Gaza Strip, May 4, 2018. Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
Palestinians prepare kites loaded with flammable material to be thrown at the Israeli side, near the Israel-Gaza border in the central Gaza Strip, June 4, 2018. Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Palestinians are sending kites dangling coal embers or burning rags across the Gaza border to set fire to farmland and forests, in a new tactic the Israeli army has been tackling with drones for interception.

"It began spontaneously. As long as there is occupation in the Gaza Strip and in our occupied land these kites will be sent almost daily until the occupation goes down or fulfills our demands," said Shadi, one of five Palestinian teenagers preparing kites with fabric dipped in diesel and lubricant oil in a Gaza field.

At least 124 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops during mass demonstrations along the Gaza border since March 30, and the men sending the kites over the fence believe they have found an effective new weapon.

No one has been hurt by the fires, but some 2,250 acres of fields and nature reserves, already parched after a dry winter, have been burned by flames stoked by Mediterranean winds. This has caused $2.5 million in damage, Israel's government said.

The Israeli army has fitted larger surveillance drones with weighted fishing lines or blades that can snag or slash kite strings in mid-air.

The army has also drafted in civilian drone enthusiasts as army reservists, instructing them to fly their remote-controlled aircraft into the kites.

"If their drone ends up getting lost in the process, we compensate them," an Israeli general said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

But he acknowledged the limitations of such measures, saying: "We'll probably end up having to shoot kite-flyers too."

On June 8, Israeli troops killed four Palestinians and wounded hundreds of others with live fire or tear gas used against protesters at the Gaza border, medics said, while Israel said militants had attacked its forces with guns and grenades.

Israel, with U.S. support, has described the protests as a ploy by Hamas to breach its border, and says that its lethal tactics have been necessary to prevent that.

There have been no Israeli casualties from the more than two months of confrontations along the Gaza border.

Photos from the scene show the fragile kites contrasting with the hi-tech Israeli drones. Nevertheless, the kites have managed to wreak havoc on the Israeli side of the border, leaving charred fields and trees where they land.

—Reuters contributed to this report