IDF girds to face '5,000' incendiary kites in residual Gaza riots
While Israeli security forces expect significantly fewer protesters to show up to riots following conclusion last week of final national Palestinian commemoration day, self-declared 'incendiary kites and balloons unit' vow to keep up the momentum by intensifying efforts to scorch south Israel.
The expected round of rioting comes despite last Friday marking the conclusion of a series of national Palestinian commemoration days for what they say was a loss of their ancestral homelands.
During last week’s riots, at least four Palestinians were killed in the Naksa Day protests on the Gaza border as some 10,000 Palestinians assembled along the security fence and began burning tires, hurling stones and flying incendiary kites into Israeli towns, prompting IDF snipers to open fire at violent ringleaders.
In a regular weekly occurrence, additional IDF soldiers will reinforce the area on Friday, taking up positions near violent flashpoints along the border. However, Israeli security authorities are predicting only a few hundred protesters to turn up, in stark contrast to the thousands-strong sea of people that had swamped the border over the preceding weeks.
Despite the expected drop in numbers, however, security forces are expecting a spike in the Gazans’ dispatching of incendiary kites and balloon, assisted by small drones, which have consumed thousands of acres of Israeli farmland over the course of the riots.
IDF soldiers are not expected to open fire on the operators of the flying explosives, despite Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan calling last week for Israeli snipers to shoot Palestinians in Gaza who are spotted flying incendiary kites over the border into Israel.
Instead, the IDF is hoping that a new policy of firing warning shots from Israeli jets in close proximity to the operators will suffice in deterring further use of the kites. In the event that the new measures fail, the jets will likely be authorized to carry out precision attacks against the operators.
The IDF attacked infrastructure in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday afternoon, where earlier a terror cell was working on preparing incendiary balloons.
An IDF aircraft initially fired warning shots at the cell, and later carried out an attack on the infrastructure. There has been no reports of casualties.
"The IDF considers the use of incendiary and explosive kites and balloons to be very grave and will work to prevent use of them," the IDF said.
One of the members of Gaza's self-declared "incendiary kites and balloons unit" said Israel attacked a group of its men "in an effort to break their spirit."
"We will continue with all of our strength until we achieved our goals," he continued. "The settlers will not live in security and stability until the siege over Gaza is lifted. We'll cause the residents of Gaza to live under a siege of the fire of incendiary kites and balloons. The fire of the siege won't just break us."
He went on to say the "kites unit" has "prepared a target list of all of the sites and special facilities and of all of the agricultural areas so we can burn them all."
"We warned Israel against making stupid actions and hurting us," he concluded.
The "kites unit" vowed on Thursday to fly 5,000 incendiary balloons and kites into Israel on Friday in honor of Eid al-Fitr—the holiday that marks the end of the month of Ramadan.
"While the siege only increases and the aggression continues—the 'March of Return' activity will continue as well," the unit said in a press conference convened at the Bureij refugee camp in the center of the Gaza Strip. "We'll go out to burn the settlers' lands. Our unit has burned tens of thousands of dunams and military outposts. We'll turn our lands into fire under their legs."
Several fires broke out earlier Thursday as a result of incendiary kites and balloons, including a brush fire near Kibbutz Be'eri and two other brush fires in the Shaar HaNegev Regional Council. Firefighters and foresters put out the fires. No one was hurt.