Fires continue to break out along the Israeli side of the border with Gaza, as a result of incendiary kites and balloons that are flown out of the Palestinian enclave into Israeli territory. In most cases, the fires were brought under control, yet authorities revealed that thus far the blazes caused extensive damage of more than 2,250 acres of both farmlands and forests. As part of the Israeli military’s efforts to thwart incendiary kites and balloons from crossing into Israel, the IDF has drafted in civilian drone enthusiasts as army reservists, instructing them to fly their remote-controlled aircraft into the kites. “In this way we succeed in preventing many fires. It won’t be an exaggeration to say we have about 500 successes so far. And each one of the kites and balloons we managed to intercept so far, necessarily prevented further damage. So we think our response is good, it’s not hermetic. We continue to find good solutions in order to have a full response and in order to let farmers here work properly while preventing unnecessary damages,” IDF Gaza Division – Technology and Maintenance officer Rafi Akav said.
While the use of the drones reported as a success, the IDF noted that the timely-location of the kites was the main obstacle to avert their infiltration into Israeli fields. “I can say the solution all in all is good. In most cases in which we find the kites and balloons on time we succeed in intercepting them. The problem is that we don’t always catch or find them on time and that’s the main gap,” Rafi Akav said.
Israeli security officials anticipate an uptick in the number of incendiary kites and balloons that are sent over the border in the coming few days, in response to directives given by the different Islamist organizations in the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, as part of its efforts to avert a possible escalation in violence, Israel has refrained in the past several days from attacking Hamas targets in response to the use of incendiary kites, while Israeli military officials pointed to a drop in the number of border incidents and the fact that there has been no rocket fire out of Gaza as well. That said, a defense official told TV7 that if the “use of kites and balloons for the purpose of terrorizing Israel’s southern communities will continue, the IDF will have no other choice but to response with all of the tools at its disposal, to assure the security of the Jewish state.”