A dead falcon was found in Southern Israel on Monday with strings attaching it to incendiary material, leading investigators to conjecture that the bird had been sent into Israel as part of the ongoing aerial arson attacks launched from Gaza.
The falcon, a bird of prey native to Israel also known as a kestrel, was found hanging from a burned tree near the Nahal Habesor riverbed not far from the border. As part of the Hamas-led March of Return riots that began on March 30, thousands of incendiary kites and balloons have been flown into Israel, setting fires that have burned thousands of acres of farmland and nature reserves. On the day the falcon was discovered, Israeli firefighters extinguished 15 wildfires ignited by Gazan kites and balloons.
Nature and Parks Authority officials investigated the incident and discovered a harness on the corpse of the bird, leading them to believe it was a trained bird. Officials have yet to determine whether the bird was rigged with flammable materials and sent into Israel or whether it became entangled with the flammable materials while in flight.
The IDF has tried many high-tech tactics to battle the low-tech incendiary kites with little success. The kites and helium balloons have also been rigged with explosives and last month, one balloon travelled 45 miles before setting a fire in central Israel.
The falcon has become entangled in the regional conflict before. In 2013, a kestrel tagged by Israeli researchers was captured in Turkey and officials claimed it was being used by the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service, for spying and reconnaissance. The charges against the kestrel were eventually dropped and the bird released.