Israel Enlists Amateur Drone Racers to Knock Down 'Kite Bombs' From Gaza

For first time, remote-operated 'kite bomb' lands in Israel from Gaza, army says, claiming Palestinians trying to test how far kites can go into Israeli territory

Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich
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Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich

Israel has begun enlisting amateur drone racers to deal with the onslaught of burning kites being flown from Gaza into Israel, where they usually start brush fires.

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The hobbyist-operated run racer drones, which can reach speeds of up to 110 mps and were first deployed on Friday, either fly through the kites to shred them or down them with the help of fishhooks.

Israel enlists amateur drone racers to stop 'kite bombs' from Gaza

Meanwhile, a kite carrying what may be a remote operated-bomb landed in Israel after being launched from Gaza, the latest in a string of cross-border attacks from the coastal enclave.

The explosive did not detonate when it landed Saturday near the kibbutz of Nahal Oz, a few hundred meters from Israel's border with Gaza. Police sappers that examined it suspected that it was a dud or even a fake. However, they say it could point to a new phase in Gazans so-called "kite terrorism" against Israel, one they fear could be used Monday as tens of thousands of Gazans will protest on the border as part of Nakba Day.

Late Saturday, a kite with what seemed to be burning coals glided towards Israel, as has happened numerous times in recent weeks. These kites are intended to start brushfires when they land in the fields adjunct to the border. However, when security forces arrived at the site where the kite landed, they discovered an explosive device hidden inside, with a remote detonator attached to it which could be operated from a mobile phone.

The army is still unsure whether the device found was a fully functional bomb or not, but they say it was very likely a test to see how far a kite carrying a heavy explosive could be flown in Israeli territory while staying in range for remote detonation. In the meantime, locals have been asked not to touch any kites they find.

According to the army, if Palestinians use booby-trapped kites, it may be forced to change its open-fire protocols to also include those launching the kites, even they themselves are at a safe distance from the border.

On Friday, three Israeli men were detained for questioning after a burning kite they tried to fly into the Gaza Strip fell on the Israeli side of the border, setting off a small brushfire.

Ran Karmi Buzaglo, the only man whose name was released, later claimed the stunt was an effort to make a video “to amuse and strengthen the morale of local residents who have suffered as a result of the ‘kite terrorism.’” The fire was quickly extinguished and the three men were taken into police custody for questioning.

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