IDF General: Israel to target terrorists launching terror kites

After months of standing by as flaming kites scorched Israel's south, Southern Command head says the rules have changed.

Tzvi Lev,

Incendiary kite production
Incendiary kite production
Reuters

Southern Command head General Herzi Halevi said on Sunday that Israel would start targeting terrorists responsible for launching incendiary kites into Israel, more than three months after the phenomenon began.

"We have prepared for these things in recent weeks. We understand that there is a change in thinking about how to deal with the fire terrorism, and we have developed all sorts of things in order to expand the response," Halevi said at a meeting of commanders whose units are deployed near Gaza.

"We have created a collection of tools, we are starting to create a situation in which Hamas will pay an increasing price for the fires. The IDF, together with firefighters, and the JNF deal with the fires. We have greatly reduced the amount of burned area because we are extinguishing them very quickly," Halevy added.

For over three months, Hamas has launched burning kites and balloons into Israel. Notoriously hard to spot and extremely potent during Israel's dry summer months, the kites have burned up large portions of the south and caused hundreds of millions in damage.

The IDF has struggled to find an appropriate response to the kites whose small size make them impervious to radar. When the phenomenon first began, the IDF attempted to down the kites using amateur drone pilots before moving on to a strategy of preemptive drone strikes. Neither doctrine has found success and the military is under increasing pressure to respond forcefully to what has been dubbed 'kite terror'.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said at the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday that he had instructed the IDF to up its response to the kite terrorism. "There is no intention to contain rockets or kites and anything," Liberman said. "I hope that Hamas will draw conclusions, and if they do not, they will have to pay a heavy price."

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