Israelis battle blazes started by flaming kites on Gaza border

Israeli firefighters on Tuesday battled three more fires on the Gaza border caused by flaming kites ahead of expected protests at the border’s security fence.

An Israeli firefighter attempts to extinguish a fire near Kibbutz Kfar Azza, along the border of the Gaza Strip, that was ignited by kites sent by Palestinian protesters in Gaza on Tuesday. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo
An Israeli firefighter attempts to extinguish a fire near Kibbutz Kfar Azza, along the border of the Gaza Strip, that was ignited by kites sent by Palestinian protesters in Gaza on Tuesday. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

Authorities expected large protests Tuesday along the border over the anniversary of Israel’s victory in 1967’s Six-Day War, when the country seized the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The tactic of using flaming kites and helium balloons containing burning fuel to set Israeli territories ablaze has been used hundreds of times in the past, the Times of Israel reported.

Firefighters, soldiers and residents have worked to contain fires on a near-daily basis since the Great March of Return protests began in late March.

The protests started as a six-week campaign organized by Palestinians to rally on Fridays near the Gaza-Israel border to demand Palestinian refugees be allowed to return to what is now Israel.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told YNet News Monday the Israel Defense Forces has intercepted 400 of 600 flaming kites, while the rest have damaged some 9,000 acres of crops and forests.

Lieberman added that he will not accept the continued attacks becoming the “norm.”

“We should be clear that we are not prepared to accept the kites becoming normality,” he said.

By Sommer Brokaw