Hamas threats to launch 5,000 incendiary balloons and kites at Israel fell short but several of the terror devices did cross the border, setting off at least 11 fires inside Israel on Friday and at least another 20 on Saturday. The IDF responded overnight on Sunday by attacking the vehicle of a leader of the Hamas kite unit.
On Thursday, the unit of the Hamas military wing responsible for sending incendiary kites and balloons into Israel held a media conference in which they stated it was their intent to send 5,000 of the devices into Israel to honor Eid al-Fitr, an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that ended the month of Ramadan fasting. The holiday began Thursday evening and continued until Friday evening. Though many hundreds of the devices were sent into Israel, the number did not reach the level of the Hamas threat. It is believed that the protests were relatively subdued since many Gazans did not take part due to Eid al-Fitr which is, for most Muslims, a joyous family holiday.
The incendiary kites began as part of the Hamas-led March of Return protests that began March 30. Since the beginning of the protests, hundreds of kites have been launched, burning over 6,100 acres of Israeli farmland and nature reserves. The Tax Authority estimated that the damage so far will cost at least $1.4 million.
On Saturday, an IDF plane fired warning shots toward a group launching a kite. Gazan sources reported three people were injured in the attack. This marked the second time in one week that this tactic was used to dissuade the launching of an aerial incendiary device.
Several hours later in the early hours of Sunday, the IDF attacked the vehicle of a Hamas leader of the incendiary kite unit. According to Palestinian reports, the car was empty and no one was injured in the attack. This could be part of an IDF escalation in the effort to fight this new form of terrorism.
The IDF is determined to continue to act with increasing intensity against these acts of terror
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) June 17, 2018
A terror balloon bearing the words “I Love You” landed near a highway in the Shaar Hanegev region on Friday. Police sappers exploded the balloon and an explosive device attached to it.
Hadashot news reported that the IDF began using a new type of radar to track kites and balloons, allowing drones to intercept them.
The IDF attacked the vehicle of a Hamas leader of the incendiary kite unit. According to Palestinian reports, the car was empty and no one was injured in the attack.
The Palestinian Shehab news agency, linked to Gaza’s Hamas rulers, reported that the airstrike had hit an empty vehicle outside a mosque in Shejaiya, a suburb of Gaza City, early Sunday morning.
There were no initial reports of injuries.
On Friday, as thousands of Gazans protested along the security fence, an unarmed man attempted to infiltrate into Israel. He was apprehended by the IDF and taken into custody.