Hamas plans to launch exploding drones into Israel, IDF warns

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A fire in the Be’eri Forest region of southern Israel on Wednesday ignited by Palestinian “fire kites.” Credit: Screenshot.

Gaza terrorists are now using timers to delay combustion of incendiary kites and balloons, IDF says

 

 Hamas is planning to use exploding drones to step up ?its arson terrorism campaign, Israeli defense officials ?warned Thursday.

Over the last three months, Gaza terrorists have launched hundreds of improvised incendiary devices across the border into Israel, setting more than 1,000 fires in border-area Israeli communities.

According to intelligence gathered by the IDF and Israel Police, the terrorist group controlling the Gaza Strip plans to step up the arson campaign and launch drones rigged with explosives deeper into Israeli territory, targeting ?communities located farther from the border.

Some defense officials expressed concern that explosive drones could potentially reach Judea and Samaria.

The Palestinian kite terror campaign has laid waste to over 8,200 acres of forest and agricultural land on the Israeli side of the border, causing tens of millions of dollars in damage. Environmental experts say it will take at least 15 years to rehabilitate the vegetation and wildlife in the affected areas.

According to experts, Hamas is now looking for a way to ratchet up the threat.

So far, the incendiary kites have been fitted with fireworks, burning coals, firebombs or various flammable materials that spark fires as they crash on the Israeli side of the border.

Israeli intelligence suggests that Hamas terrorists have recently begun adding timers to the fire kites and balloons, seeking to delay their combustion in hopes of keeping them airborne for a longer period of time and thereby increasing their range inside Israeli territory.

A kite with a timer mechanism landed this week in Moshav Shekef, 35 kilometers (22 miles) from the Gaza Strip, raising concerns that Hamas was field-testing their new devices.

”We are seeing an obvious trend,” Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Thursday. “The number of fires is increasing and more and more incendiary kites and balloons are being launched from Gaza.”

”This is exactly why, from the first moment we identified this phenomenon, I demanded we retaliate against terrorist kites in the same way we retaliate when terrorists fire rockets in order to eliminate the threat to the southern communities,” Erdan continued.

”Our firefighters are doing an incredible job in getting these fires under control quickly, but arson terrorism will not stop unless we deter those launching kites and balloons over the border, and we may also find ourselves dealing with fires in communities much farther from Gaza,” he said.

Hamas terrorists, Erdan warned, “are constantly increasing their kites’ range and they are using other airborne devices. They may even reach Judea and Samaria,” he said.

Israel Fire and Rescue Commissioner David Simchi announced ?Sunday that his department had established a special task force to combat Palestinian arson terrorism.

The task force will divide the border-vicinity area into two sections and large firefighting teams will be assigned to each sector, equipped with a variety of advanced firefighting means and tools including all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles recently purchased by the Public Security Ministry.

The new vehicles are equipped with special gear to carry water and flame retardants and are meant to be used as a first response ahead of the firefighters’ arrival at the scene.

Also on Thursday, some 200 residents of Gaza border-adjacent communities protested in Sderot over “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s failure” to resolve the kite terrorism.

”We absolutely can’t allow this situation to continue,” said local resident Avichai Cohen. “I’ve been living near the Gaza border for years. We’ve been through several military operations and I can’t remember such a display of impotence and helplessness.”

?”Kite terrorism is showing no signs of waning. Why Because the defense establishment has decided that it can live with it; that it’s not worth targeted killings or a military operation. I don’t understand this weakness,” he said.

Protest organizer Dvir Sassi, a resident of Sderot, said the incendiary kites should be treated like Qassam rockets.

”We’ve had enough. We just want to live our lives but Hamas terrorists are burning us to the ground. This area used to be green and flourishing and now everything is black and charred. We cannot remain silent while terrorism runs rampant,” Sassi said.

 

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