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Israel combats 'kite terrorism' with new electronic eye system

A Molotov cocktail attached to a swastika-bearing kite that IDF said crossed over the Gaza border into Israel on fourth consecutive Friday "March of Great Return" protests, April 20, 2018.
IDF Spokesperson's Unit
Efficacy in deterring Gazans from launching fire-starting balloons and kites has yet to be determined

Israel is trying to combat what it is calling “kite terrorism” by deploying electronic eye technology to track airborne incendiary objects launched into Israel from the Gaza Strip.

In the past three months, hundreds of flaming kites and incendiary balloons - sometimes with explosives attached - have been launched from Gaza into Israel. They have started fires almost daily, burning thousands of acres of land in Israel’s southern district.

The Sky Spotter system identifies where kites and balloons are launched from and is able to track the airborne objects before they cross the border.

Sky Spotter, developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, has been operating in the field on the border with Gaza for several days, according to a Hadashot report Thursday.

Initially created to counter small drones, Sky Spotter can track airborne incendiaries, identify their exact location, as well as determine their trajectory and where they will land. The operators can then provide early warning to firefighters who can try to the beat fire-starting objects to their landing points.

The system can also direct defensive drones to intercept and bring down the kites and balloons from mid-air. In the past, such drones typically were operated by IDF reservists, but Sky Spotter will soon have an automatic control function to send drones directly to threats.

Shai Ben Ari/i24NEWS

While this new technological warfare will help Israel address some of the security issues posed by the incendiary attacks from Gaza, its efficacy in deterring Gazans from launching fire-starting balloons and kites has yet to be determined.

Concerned that “kite terrorism” will continue unabated despite ongoing efforts to target launch points, some Israeli officials have apprehensively predicted an intensification of violence that could lead to a full-scale military confrontation between the IDF and terror groups in the Gaza Strip.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Thursday that Israel may be forced to launch a “large-scale military operation” in the Gaza Strip in response to continued launching of burning kites into Israel.

“I don’t want to launch an operation, but there is a good chance that we will have no other option but to go in so that we can create durable deterrence,” he said on Army Radio.

Erdan also remarked that anyone launching burning kites into Israel should be treated like a terrorist and shot regardless of age. “Age doesn’t matter, they’re terrorists and the danger they create must be prevented,” he said.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who is also a member of the current security cabinet, said on Army Radio that “there is no difference between a burning kite and a Qassam rocket, and we should not tolerate the kites.”

A military source told Haaretz that Hamas is attempting to act within self-imposed boundaries by launching rockets only at night and only toward smaller communities close to the border. Though the incendiary kites and balloons have caused thousands of dollars in damages, their launch rate has been relatively low and sporadic.

Erdan supported IDF's assessments saying, “Hamas is incorrectly assessing when our limit will be reached. If we continue to respond in the way we have been, they will have to stop, because Hamas doesn’t want to [get to a point] of confrontation that will [spell] its end in the Gaza Strip.”

AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov

Following an exchange of rockets and retaliatory strikes Wednesday, IDF spokesman Jonathon Conricus said, "The Hamas terror organization targeted Israeli civilians throughout the night with a severe rocket attack, and is dragging the Gaza Strip and its civilians down a continually deteriorating path.”

"Hamas is responsible for everything that transpires in the Gaza Strip and will bear the consequences for deliberately targeting its terror at Israeli civilians," it added.

Hamas countered by blaming Israel for heightened violence, saying it had "changed the rules of engagement" by targeting positions in response to kite and balloon arson attacks.

Comments

(2)

they need to shoot and ignite the Molotov cocktails attached to these kites while they are still in the hands of the terrorist our at least still in the skies above Gaza. burn all their farms down.

Erdan also remarked that anyone launching burning kites into Israel should be treated like a terrorist and shot regardless of age. “Age doesn’t matter, they’re terrorists and the danger they create must be prevented,” he said. 1000% correct!!

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