A reminder: Battle of the kite bombers: Simple toys turn deadly in Gaza-Israel border protests.

12 May 2021 By Paul Martin

Violence continues to erupt along Gaza’s volatile border with Israel. here’s how we reported, for and with the Mirror newspaper, three years ago precisely.

The Mirror’s Chief reporter is on the Gaza-Israel border where the kites are terrifying residents

By Andy Lines [with Paul Martin]

  • 22:21, 11 MAY 2018

Floating in the clear blue sky, the kite seems out of place amid the violence of the Gaza-Israel border.

But it is fitted with a firebomb, and this is one of the latest low-tech weapons being used by Palestinian militants in angry demonstrations that have raged on for six weeks.

Protesters have also used tennis rackets to hit back tear gas canisters fired by Israeli forces as tensions increase.

I saw first-hand how much damage can be caused by the extraordinary bomber kites. Here on the border today we watched as firemen rushed to extinguish one blaze after another.

At one point I counted five separate blazes on the horizon.

We reached one near Kissufim, a community in the Negev desert near the Gaza Strip, before overworked fire crews even arrived.

The kite landed in shrubland, setting several trees alight. It spread rapidly and, when firefighters arrived, it took them 30 minutes to put out the flames with the help of the army.

Barely a mile away another kite landed near the home of Rena Viloga, 17, on a kibbutz.

She said: “The kite landed 30 metres from my house.

“I heard a thud as it hit the ground and then watched as it burst into flames.

“It happens quite regularly here.

“I’m used to it now. As well as the rockets they have always used they are using these kites now.”

Mirror Man Andy Lines in Golan Heights this week (Image: Paul Martin/Daily Mirror)

The Israeli army used a drone to down a least one kite.

Israeli officials said over 60,000 acres, and several buildings, have been burnt since the new tactics began.

There are huge patches of incinerated land across the whole area.

No one can tell how many kite attacks have taken place in recent months. Some of the kites even have swastikas painted on them by Palestinian youths as a taunt to Israelis.

Yahya al-Sinwar, head of Palestinian group Hamas in Gaza, praised youngsters using the kites. He said: “The world will witness the wonders the Gazan youth are willing to make for their pursuit of happiness and freedom.

“Through simple means of resistance like incendiary kites and burning tyres, our youth were able to place the Palestinian cause in its rightful place on the world agenda.”

In the nearby town of Sderot police have collected empty missile shells that have hit the area in recent years. At least 10,000 have been fired at the town dubbed “rocket city”.

But the silent kites are more difficult to detect. One army analyst said: “The kites are much more unpredictable than their missiles.

“Depending on wind conditions they can actually travel further than some of the missiles.

“It’s easier to track missiles than kites.”

Yesterday Israeli troops killed one Palestinian protester, bringing the six-week death toll to 44. At least 170 demonstrators were also wounded yesterday. The man killed was protesting east of Khan Younis, in southern Gaza. Medics said seven people were critically injured, including a 16-year-old who was shot in the face.

Organisers of the protest, called the Great March of Return, expect tens of thousands of Gazans at border encampments in the coming days. The demonstrations peak on Fridays, and are building to a climax on Tuesday.

May 15 is the day Palestinians call the Nakba, or Catastrophe, marking the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the conflict surrounding the creation of Israel on May 14, 1948.

At least 250 Gazan children have been hit with live bullets during the protests, among nearly 700 children injured overall, according to Save the Children analysis of data collected by the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza.

Israeli officials are braced for a tense weekend ahead of the controversial opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem on Monday, when Israel marks its 70th anniversary.