In first, 'fire kites' used in West Bank
MOHAMMED ABED (AFP)
The use of “fire kites" have reportedly been used for the first time in the West Bank starting a fire on a field near a Jewish settlement on Thursday.
The kites were flown over three Jewish communities, Matan, Yarhiv and Nirit in the West Bank with one kite hitting a power line, causing hours of power outage.
Emerging during weeks of border protests and clashes in Gaza in which some 125 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, the fire kites quickly became a popular way for Palestinians to inflict damage on Israel without putting themselves in danger.
The kites from Gaza have started fires when they hit the ground in Israeli border communities, and are estimated to have caused millions of shekels in damage.
Israel, world-renowned for its high-tech know-how, has scrambled to deal with the new homemade threat.
Col. Nadav Livne, the commander of the Israeli army's Matmon unit -- dedicated to research and development of technology for operational purposes -- on Thursday briefed reporters on the Israel Defense Forces's (IDF) use of mini-drones to counter the wave of kites.
Col. Livne noted that some 500 kites and balloons had been intercepted by mini-drones operated by 10 to 20 soldiers, many of them civilian reservist experts called up specially for this purpose.
Israel estimate that some (2,500 acres of agricultural lands have been burned in the past two months due to “fire kites” from Gaza, causing 198 fires.
The use of “fire kites” in West Bank comes amid a new wave of protests are set to emerge in Gaza on Friday and possibly the West Bank over what the Palestinians call “Naksa day”, which refers to the commemoration of the 1967 war where Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza.
Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, but it still occupies the West Bank.
Weekly mass demonstrations in Gaza have been held since March 30, where some 125 Palestinians have been killed in border clashes with Israel’s Defense Forces.
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