Gaza's Airborne Firebomb Launchers Threaten to Step Up Assaults Against Israel

The group accuses Israel of 'spreading lies' that it had agreed to stop its activities, as Hamas and Islamic Jihad were said to be pursuing talks with Egyptian intelligence for a deal to ease border tensions

A firefighting plane at work near Kibbutz Carmiya on Gaza border on July 17, 2018.
Elilyahu Hershkovits

A group representing all of Gaza's airborne firebomb devices vowed on Wednesday to continue their operations against Israel.  

"We hereby declare that our non-violent actions will continue and even more intensively, until we meet the demands of the Palestinian people to remove the blockade," the group said in a written statement.

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The incendiary balloon and kite flyers "stress that the pace of kite and balloon dispatches will intensify with the blockade."

"We know we can't rely on the enemy's declarations and that we cannot trust it and will continue until we see results on the ground.

"Israel has spread lies that we would halt our actions within 72 hours, and that Hamas has deployed forces to prevent us from operating. Therefore we hereby declare that these are lies and that the various units have gone out in the field this morning to continue with their operations with the aim of proving we don't take orders from anyone."

There were reports on Tuesday that Hamas and Islamic Jihad were continuing their contacts with Egyptian intelligence in an effort to achieve an easing of the Gaza blockade from Israel and Egypt.

Egyptian and Palestinian sources told Haaretz on Tuesday that Hamas is inclined to accept an agreement calling for a halt to the launching of the incendiary devices in exchange for Israel revoking its decision this week to stop fuel shipments into the Strip through the Kerem Shalom border crossing, through Sunday.

Such an agreement would also involve the opening of the Egyptian border crossing with Gaza at Rafah on a regular basis, as well as additional steps that Hamas is demanding.

"We don't want to return to the situation in which we were before the kites, because it was a bad situation in any case and it prompted us to hold marches [along the border fence], and from that, the matter of the kites developed," a senior Hamas political official told Haaretz. "What is being offered to us now is a return to the same circumstances and that won't change anything."

Hamas is not seeking a confrontation with Israel, the official added, and it understands that the continued dispatch of the fiery kites and balloons into Israel could lead to such an eventuality.

"From an operational and public diplomacy standpoint, it's easier for Israel to deal with rockets rather than balloons," he said, "so it will do everything to push Hamas and the other factions into this corner. Those in Hamas don’t want to play into Israel's hands."