"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 over 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.
Fields set ablaze by fire kites (paltimes.ps, June 9, 2018)
The following are translated excerpts from these articles:
Head Of Palestinian Prisoners Commission: The Kites Are A Means Of Resistance That Poses A Strategic Threat To Israel; The World's Mightiest Army Cannot Deal With The Kites Of The Children Of Gaza
'Issa Qaraqe', head of the Palestinian Authority's (PA) Commission for Prisoners Affairs, wrote: "Just as the Palestinians [once] invented the stone as a means of resistance that became the hallmark of the 1987 Stone Intifada, thus introducing [the notion of] the Palestinian stone into the global lexicon, the Palestinians of the Gazan Marches of Return have [now] invented the kites that they launch over the border as a non-violent means of protest which confounds the occupiers and their security apparatuses. The kites that flew up into the sky and landed in the fields of the settlements, setting them ablaze, have become a strategic threat to nuclear Israel. Neither its army, the most powerful in the world, nor its missiles can defeat the kites of the children of Gaza... Apprehension and panic seized the settlers, especially that the Iron Dome [system] is unable to intercept [the kites]. They fly and fall as directed by the Gazan youths. These simple paper weapons are defying an entire army on [high] alert..."
Columnist In PA Daily: The Israeli Generals And Politicians, With Their Warplanes, Missiles And Nuclear Warheads, Are Threatened By Kites
Similar statements were made by Muwaffaq Matar, a columnist for the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida: "The Palestinians do not possess tactical or strategic warplanes; armies; ground, sea and air weapons; cruise missiles; Tomahawks; S-400 [missile systems] or Merkava tanks, and they certainly cannot develop [missile] defense systems like the Iron Dome or Patriot [systems]. But they have a will stronger than iron or steel, and above all [they are armed with] the values of justice, morality and liberty...
"The damage [cause by Israel's] planes, and especially by its UAVs, cannot be compared to the damage caused by the fiery-tailed kites of the Palestinian youths. But the imperialist occupiers regard the Palestinian kite as a legendary dragon... Generals and politicians in [Israel], a state with warplanes, missiles and nuclear warheads, regard the kites as frightening weapons – not only because they burn the fields of the settlements in the so-called 'Gaza border' region, but also because the fourth and fifth generation after the Nakba is still creating [new] means to convey its messages to the world and underscore its right to liberty, independence and return [to the homeland]."
Senior Columnist In Egyptian Government Daily Al-Ahram: The Kites Cause Israel Serious Damage; The Palestinian Resistance Will Always Be Able To Threaten Israel's Security And Interests
Makram Muhammad Ahmad, chairman of Egypt's Supreme Council of Media Regulation and a columnist for the Al-Ahram government daily, wrote: "The Palestinians will never stop inventing new ways to intensify their popular resistance against the Israeli occupation, until the Israelis understand with certainty that the Palestinian resistance will always be able to harm their security and interests. Israel, no matter how clever and calculated [its strategies], will never be able to eliminate or prevent the popular resistance, and will not be able to suppress it when it develops [new methods] at such speed – from stealthy stabbings on crowded sidewalks to surprise vehicular attacks in [Israel's] streets and squares. These crimes are generally carried out without premeditation, and afterwards the Palestinian feels he has restored his humanity...
"Several weeks ago the Palestinians managed to invent a new means of resistance, launching hundreds of burning kites into the fields of the Israeli settlements close to the Gaza border, which have burned thousands of acres of wheat and olive groves and caused the settlers heavy losses. So far 600 kites have been launched, causing 198 fires that burned [some] 2,000 acres of cultivated fields and forest. What makes the kites [even] more dangerous is that the Palestinians have managed to fit them with explosives that detonate when the kite hits the ground...
"The fact that the Palestinian kites have managed to destroy 2,000 acres... makes them a major source of concern for Israel. In a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed the threat of the Palestinian kites, stressing that this is a new problem afflicting the settlements near the Gaza border and that the Israeli army is now searching for tactical means to deal with this threat... But the Palestinian popular resistance – given its ongoing [character], the diversity of its means, and the way it has managed to successfully withstand all the methods of the Israeli siege – will clearly continue as long as Israel continues to occupy Palestinian lands..."
"The Palestinian F-16" (Facebook.com/alaa.allagta, April 19, 2018)
Al-Ahram Columnist: The Fire Kites Are A Simple, Creative Method With Great Impact
Another Al-Ahram columnist, Dr. Hassan Abu Taleb, wrote: "The Israelis perhaps think that the impasse in the political process [to resolve] the Palestinian problem, and the decline in support [for the Palestinian cause], mean that this is the right time to pass the so-called Deal of the Century. However, despite the decline in Arab [involvement in the Palestinian issue], current events prove that the Palestinians are a nation that will not relinquish its rights, despite all the hardships, limitations and pressures, and that it is able to invent amazing new methods of quiet resistance that can light a fire under Israel's feet... The [strong] will of this quiet resistance recently produced two important developments. One is the Marches of Return... and the second, which is truly creative, is the use of kites, originally intended to be innocent toys, as a unique form of resistance. The message conveyed [by the kites] to the occupation state is that, no matter how powerful its army and advanced its technology, it will remain helpless in the face of an unarmed people that believes in its cause and in its national rights that can never be relinquished.
"Israel developed its advanced [Iron] Dome [system] at a cost of two billion dollars to defend it against the locally-manufactured rockets that are occasionally fired by the armed Palestinian resistance factions at the settlements close to Gaza. But this so-called [Iron] Dome stands completely helpless in the face of kites carrying a [little] flame that land in the stolen Palestinian lands and ignite the crops and the facilities there. The debate currently raging in Israel reveals its rage, amazement and helplessness, despite its immense capabilities, in the face of this innovative Palestinian [method] of quiet resistance that costs so little and yet is so effective... This Palestinian [innovation] heralds a unique model of quiet resistance that will [eventually] bear fruit, even if it takes a while..."
Jordanian Columnist: The Fire Kites Frighten Israel And Remind The World About The Right Of Return
Muhammad Sweidan, a columnist for the Jordanian daily Al-Ghad, was likewise impressed with the transforming of the kite from a simple children toys into an effective means of resistance. He wrote: "Half a century ago, [Lebanese singer] Fairuz wrote songs about kites, which children still play with to this very day... During the Gazan Marches of Return, this pretty and inexpensive toy was transformed by creative Palestinians into a Palestinian tool of resistance against the Israeli occupation forces...
"This simple tool of struggle has now become a means of resistance that frightens the occupation forces, the settlers and all the loathsome authorities of the occupation. This is because the young [Palestinians] have transformed the kites into a means of resistance that the occupation forces cannot control, no matter how hard they try and what means they employ to try and neutralize [the kites] and keep them from reaching the crops and the fields of the settlers in the Palestinian lands on the other side of the Gaza border.
"The kites have burned thousands of acres of the settlers' crops, turning them to ash, in response to the oppression of the occupation forces and the murderous violence they use against the Palestinians, who are protesting to remind the world of their right to return to Palestine. Dozens of Palestinians were killed by the guns of the occupation during the Marches of Return, and thousands were wounded. This is what prompted the Palestinian youths to invent new means of resistance in order to impact the enemy, trouble him, enrage him and cause him more damage. The fire kites, expressing the rage of Palestine and its people, carry their flames in the right direction: into the face of the occupation, its forces and its settlers... Creative resistance like the Palestinian resistance is impossible to defeat, and it will triumph, no matter how many victims this requires."
"Paper kites" (Al-Arabi Al-Jadid, London, June 24, 2018)