IDF strikes 'kite-builders' cell, vehicle in Gaza after rounds of warning shots fired
Mohammed ABED (AFP)
Israel's Defense Force (IDF) on Sunday targeted a cell and vehicle in the Gaza Strip used for launching incendiary airborne objects across the border into Israel.
The observation post was said to be located east of Bureij in the strip.
The strike followed three rounds of warning shots fired by an Israeli "aircraft" or drone towards the coastal enclave earlier in the day, in a bid to deter Palestinians from continually launching flaming kites and arson balloons towards the Jewish state.
After second round of Israeli shots, two incendiary balloons affixed with explosive devices were discovered on the roof of a home in the Sdot Negev regional council.
The alleged balloon launchers were said to be operating from a number of tents pitched east of the city of Khan Younis in the south of the strip, Hamas-affiliated Shehab news reported. No injuries were reported.
The flaming devices were said to have sparked around 20 fires today in Israeli territory close to the Gaza border according to authorities. Local firefighters were working to contain the blazes and disruptions to roads were reported.
Early on Sunday morning, the army said it struck a car of one of the leading figures of the so-called “fire-kite” launchers known as the “kite-builders unit.” However, Palestinian media claimed that the vehicle had been empty during the attack. According to Gaza’s health ministry, two people from the unit were said to have been injured.
The kite attacks early on Sunday were said to have sparked a number of blazes that ravaged fields, nature reserves and almost reached a military outpost
Emerging during the recent weeks of border protests and clashes that began on March 30 the “fire kites” affixed with Molotov cocktails and fire-bombs, have quickly became a popular way for Palestinians to inflict millions of shekels worth of damage in Israel without putting themselves in danger.
On Thursday, Hamas threatened to launch around 5,000 flaming airborne objects some 40 kilometers into Israel on Friday in a new round of the weekly “Great March of Return” demonstrations. The militant group said at a press conference that the incendiary devices would be flown from various locations.
The kite-builders unit said that if Israel “doesn’t make use of the opportunity we are giving it” to end the blockade on Gaza, then it would “live under a siege of kites.”
Avigdor Liberman, the Israeli Defense Minister, said earlier this week that some 200 fires had been started by burning kites in Israeli territory, which is now recorded closer to 300. An estimated some 2,500 acres of agricultural land is estimated to have burned in the past two months.
Israel, world-renowned for its high-tech know-how, has scrambled to deal with the new homemade threat.
However, Israel Defense Forces's (IDF) have started using mini-drones to counter the wave of kites.
The technology was developed at lightning speed, as the spikes threatened to spark massive blazes in southern Israel, panicking residents. According to Col. Nadav Livne has an interception success rate of “over 90 percent.”
Since the start of the Palestinian “Great March of Return” protests around 130 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli live fire, of which at least 50 are members of Hamas or other Gaza terrorist groups.
Alongside the launching of fire-kites, the protests have been characterized by stone-throwing at Israeli soldiers, laying of explosive devices on the security fence and mass attempts to breach the border.
Israel accuses Hamas of using the protests as an excuse to carry out attacks on Israel and has responded with both lethal and non-lethal force.
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