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Residents of southern Israel band together to face down Gaza 'terror kites'

Des enfants israéliens face au feu dans un champ, provoqué par un cerf-volant incendiaire lancé de la bande de Gaza sur le Kibboutz Beeri situé près de la frontière, le 5 juin 2018
MENAHEM KAHANA (AFP)

Residents of Israeli communities adjacent to the Gaza border are banding together shows of resilience, peace, and determination in the face of an epidemic of “fire kites” which have scorched thousands of acres of agricultural lands costing local farmers millions of dollars in damages.

The burning kites have set more than 4,300 acres of land aflame and cause more than $1.5 million dollars in damages since becoming ubiquitous tactic in weekly protests along the Gaza border which have been ongoing since the end of March.

Aside from the monetary toll, the kites have cost an incalculable toll to civilians in southern Israel who have watched as their farms -- their livelihoods -- have gone up in smoke.

In the face of the disaster, volunteers from every corner of the country have travelled to southern Israel to help local farmers rebuild and reharvest, while a therapeutic kite-making workshop for children aims to reclaim the skies with messages of peace.

“They burn, we build. We continue to have a life here and will not be deterred by such things,” Nechamia David Ben Porat, a farm volunteer from northern Israel, tells i24NEWS.

MENAHEM KAHANA (AFP)

“I think we are accomplishing something very big and very important. They can fly their kites...but it won't stop us from working here,” Aryeh, a 15-year-old farm volunteer says.

Moshe Ofer, who leads a group of student farmers, says that volunteers also come “to gain strength from the farmers as well—to adopt their motivation and ideals.”

Outside the fields in the city center of Sderot, meanwhile, young children participate in a kite-building workshop bearing a personal, positive message.

“We really try to show how kites can be used as they were intended for—a very fun purpose, to have fun with the wind and play around instead of using kites as tool of destruction and mayhem, Uriel Rosenblum, a Sderot father of four, tells i24NEWS.

"As opposed to our neighbors from the Gaza Strip who have turned the wonderful hobby of flying kites into an act of terrorism, with terrible damage to agriculture, the children of Sderot and the surrounding communities are returning the kite to its source,” Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi said of the “peace kite” initiative.

“Ours are kites of life, not death," he added.

See also:

Israel shows off mini-drones used to tackle Gaza 'fire kites'

Israel to deduct Gaza 'fire kite' damages from PA funding

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