Severe damage to an Israeli nature reserve over the weekend is being blamed on “terror kites,” kites affixed with incendiaries and flown by Palestinians across the Gaza border, with the intent of starting fires inside Israel.
Israeli firefighters and aircraft battled three large fires and several smaller ones inside Israeli territory on Saturday. Arson investigators believed them to be set by the “terror kites,” or possibly with balloons filled with chemicals which are designed to drip flames along their flight path. Officials at the Israel Nature and Parks Authority estimated that at least one third of the Carmia nature reserve has been destroyed, with significant harm to local plants and wildlife.
By the time the various flames were brought under control, some 500 to 740 acres of fields and nature reserve were burned. Kibbutz Be’eri, Kibbutz Nir Am, Kissufim, and Ein HaShlosha were some of the recent targets. In some cases, residents teamed up with firefighters to help contain the blazes.
Arson attacks have been a nearly daily occurrence since the beginning of the Hamas-led “March of Return” campaign, in which Gaza terrorists have attacked the Israeli security fence and IDF soldiers, and set fires inside Israel under the pretense of marching en masse to take Jerusalem.
Hundreds of arson kites outfitted with Molotov cocktails and fuel have been flown into Israel since the strategy was initiated, setting over 270 fires and burning 6,200 acres of land — or about a third of all the land adjacent to Gaza.
According to an interview in Hadashot news, one Israeli military official said an IDF strategy involving drones has brought down over 500 kites before they could cause damage.
Some residents have expressed fear that they would not be compensated by the state for their losses, to the tune of tens of millions of shekels, because of the difficulty in proving that the fires were caused by terrorism.