For over two months, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been flying kites, birthday balloons and inflated latex condoms into Israel, relying on the gentle Mediterranean coastal breeze to push them across the border.
Silly as they may sound, these weapons are no joke.
Most of them carry metal mesh pouches containing a burning piece of coal or oil-soaked rag, which have sparked hundreds of fires in southern Israel, destroying thousands of acres of land and causing millions of shekels in damage.
A smaller number carry small explosive devices, which seem to have not yet caused injury because of repeated warnings by police and local government officials not to approach them.
“They are not toys, they are weapons that are intended to kill and inflict damage,” IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told reporters on Wednesday.
The kites are almost all handmade. Three criss-crossing scraps of wood, bound in the middle with a piece of wire, form a hexagonal frame, which is covered in a piece of plastic sheeting. The tails are often made out of cut-up homework assignments.
The balloons come in two main varieties: birthday and inflated latex condoms.
Adding to the absurdity, many of the birthday balloons have printed on them endearing or celebratory lines turned ironic under the circumstances.
“I ♥ you,” was written on one balloon to which a small explosive was attached that landed on a highway in southern Israel last week. It shut down traffic until a police sapper detonated it under controlled conditions.
In at least two cases, balloons covered in hearts with the Arabic word habibi, or “my beloved,” touched down in fields in southern Israel — one in an empty lot, the other in the middle of a peanut field. In those cases as well, a police sapper had to be called in.