Tags: israel | fire balloons | kites | terror | hamas

Israel Intercepting Fire Balloons and Kites From Gaza

Israel Intercepting Fire Balloons and Kites From Gaza
Palestinian protestors prepare to fly a kite loaded with an incendiary during a demonstration along the border with Israel east of Jabalia in the central Gaza Strip on June 8, 2018. Palestinians in the besieged coastal enclave have used kites carrying burning cans to set ablaze Israeli fields, torching large patches of farmland near Gaza. (Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images)

Wednesday, 13 June 2018 03:51 PM Current | Bio | Archive

First came the fire kite. Now, her sister, the fire balloon has arrived. Forget rockets and missiles. These homemade, air-borne devices, first introduced into the Gazan arsenal on Friday, April 13, 2018, are the most effective weapon Gaza now has against Israel.

Incendiary balloons are the newest danger hitting Israel from Gaza. They are a version of the incendiary kite. The principle is the same. And it is ingenious.

It is as simple as it is effective. The flying fire kite is a kite outfitted with a Molotov cocktail as its stabilizer tail. The kite is launched into the air just like any regular kite would be. But then, the kite bursts into flames and turns into a ball of fire. When it hits its target, the wheat fields on the Israeli side of the border, the wheat fields are ignited and scorched.

The balloon is a simple variation on the theme. Gazans launch a helium filled balloon. Attached to the balloon is a lit Molotov cocktail. The balloon is lofted up and into the wind, propelled westward by the strong breeze of the Mediterranean Sea. When the lit wick comes in contact with the fuel in the bottle, it explodes. The balloon bursts, dropping a fireball into Israel, igniting whatever it hits.

The kite is an extremely low-tech and low-cost weapon. Hundreds of kites have been launched by Hamas and hundreds have landed in Israel and caught fire. The per-kite cost, as reported by the terrorists, comes to less than 30 cents each. They are as cost effective as a terrorist weapon can be.

The damage that has been done is dramatic. The fires are even more damaging now than when kites were first launched two months ago because the weather has changed and the heat wave in the area has caused the fields to be drier and more flammable. Surprisingly, and against all meteorological odds, it just rained in southern Israel during what it their typical dry season — some would call it an act of God.

It's taken a while, but Israel has now devised a defense against Hamas-launched Molotov cocktail kites and fire-fueled balloons.

Israel is using small, multi-propeller drones with cameras and flying them right through the kites while they are still on the Gaza side of the border. The objective of this defense technique is for the fire kites to fall on Hamas territory and catch fire there. And it's been working.

They are bursting the balloons in a similar way. Israel is knocking the balloons out of the sky using the same type of drones. The drones fly into the balloons while they are still flying over Gaza. You get the picture.

Over the past week Israel has downed over 120 of these flying fire bombs. All total, the IDF reports that they have downed over 350 flying bombs. According to Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, there have been over 600 of these kids' toys launched at Israel. The success rate is about 50 percent for these very low-tech terror and anti-terror devices.

In an attempt to stem the balloon terror, Israel has shut off the supply of helium being brought into Gaza making it more difficult to inflate, and subsequently launch, the balloons.

The drones are manually operated and they intercept the kite or balloon within 40 seconds of detection. A low-tech solution to a low-tech weapon. Dozens of mini-drones are in the air at any moment. Like the kites and the balloons they are destroying, these are definitely not highly sophisticated drones. They are similar to the drones anyone can buy online, in a hobby shop, or in a toy store. Then they are souped-up and outfitted with cameras and the ability to drop teargas canisters.

The Israeli drone operators work in teams of two, one person functions as a lookout and one flies the drone using a remote. The operators are not army conscripts, they are plucked from civilian life by the army corps of engineers and paid as contractors. Since the word got out, drone operators from all over Israel are signing up to down the flying fire bombs with their privately honed skills.

Over the past two months, 250 fires have broken out. 4,300 acres of agricultural land in Israel, including over 1,000 acres of wheat, has been burned to a crisp. The National Parks Authority reports that about 2,000 acres of park have been burned.

In case it is not absolutely clear, launching an incendiary balloon or kite from Gaza which crosses the Israeli border is an act of war. It is also an act of terror. The target is indiscriminant. The objective is to cause as much non-specific damage as possible and the intention is to strike fear into Israelis. If Israelis die in the process, that's all the better from the terrorist perspective. If the result is property damage that wreaks havoc and fear on Israel, the mission is a success.

The terrorists of Gaza have vowed to continue to launch their balloons and set their kites free — they see the pain that it causes Israelis. And Israelis will pluck them out of the sky.

Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern" a weekly TV program and "My Chopp" a daily radio spot. A dynamic speaker, he specializes in analyzing world events and evaluating their relevance and impact. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. To read more of this reports — Click Here Now.

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First came the fire kite. Now, her sister, the fire balloon has arrived. Forget rockets and missiles. These homemade, air-borne devices, first introduced into the Gazan arsenal on Friday, April 13, 2018, are the most effective weapon Gaza now has against Israel.
israel, fire balloons, kites, terror, hamas
Wednesday, 13 June 2018 03:51 PM
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