The use of weaponized kites and balloons in the Israeli – Palestinian conflict
Joanna Zych 1  
More details
Hide details
Faculty of National Security War Studies University, Warsaw, Poland
Online publication date: 2019-04-21
Publication date: 2019-12-24
Security and Defence Quarterly 2019;27(5):71–83
The aim of this paper is to analyse the use of weaponised incendiary kites and helium balloons in the Israeli-Palestinian hostilities between March and December 2018. The paper argues that arson started with incendiary kites and balloons can easily be exploited for terrorist purposes and poses a serious challenge for regular armed forces and for civilian emergency services.

The paper examines the Palestinian ‘Great March of Return’ as a background for the development of a new Hamas’ tactic and briefly describes the chronology of arson terrorism in the context of other hostilities at the Gaza-Israeli border. The study focuses on the two following questions: why are the kites and balloons useful for the current goals of Hamas and how do the Israelis respond to this new threat? The study uses comparative scientific literature and document analysis, the analysis of statements released by the Israeli authorities and the Israeli media reports related to the arson attacks.

The main findings include the role of simple, non-lethal weapons in spreading fear for terrorist purposes and the advantages of turning everyday-use materials into weapons in a situation where there is limited access to regular arms. The second part of the study deals with the effects of arson attacks on the Israeli side of the conflict and the countermeasures undertaken in the Gaza Periphery. The author concludes that airborne arson attacks pose a serious threat to advanced Israeli defence systems, solely because of their primitive and unpredictable character.

The overall findings of this paper present the threat of arson terrorism in the context of an asymmetric conflict.

Al-Omari, G. and Herzog, M., 2018. Neutralizing the Gaza Powder Keg. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Washington.
Brand, N., Shuker, P. and Siman-Tov, D., 2018. ‘Th e March of Return’ – Operative Achievement and Strategic Failure: A Test Case for Cognitive Warfare. INSS Insight, No 1063.
Cohen, Y. and White, J., 2009. Hamas in Combat. The Military Performance of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement. Policy Focus, No. 97.
Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), 2017. Hamas Terror Tunnels. [online] Available from: [Accessed 10 Dec 2018].
Drapeau, R.E., 2011. Operation Outward, Britain’s World War II Off ensive Balloons. IEEE Power & Energy Magazine, September/October 2011.
Dvori, N., Keren HaLaizer SheTashmid Aphiphoni Ta’ebarah. [online] Available from: [Accessed 5 Jan 2019].
Efron, S., Fischbach, J. and Blum, I., 2018. Th e Public Health Impacts of Gaza’s Water Crisis. Analysis and Policy Options. RAND Corporation, Santa Monica.
Elran, M., Padan, C., 2018. A Burning Dilemma: Another Round or a Change of Reality?. [online] Available from: [Accessed 15Jan 2019].
Gallo, G., 2009. Th e Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflicts: The Israeli-Palestinian Case. The Journal of Conflict Studies, Vol. 29(2009).
Gross, J.A., 2018a. Condoms, Kites, Birthday balloons: ‘Silly’ Gaza Weapons Could Lead to Real War. [online] Available from: [Accessed 1 Dec 2018].
Gross, J.A., 2018b. Israel Limits Entrance of Helium Into Gaza After Balloons Scorch South. [online] Available from: https://www.timesofi [Accessed 20 Dec 2018].
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2018. Arson terror from Gaza continues to devastate southern Israel. [online] Available from: [Accessed 5 Jan 2019].
Israeli Security Agency, 2018. Monthly Summary – September 2018. [online] Available from: [Accessed 10 Nov 2018].
Israel’s Homeland Security, 2018. Revolutionary Counter-Drone Technology Developed by Israeli Startup. [online] Available from: [Accessed7 Jan 2019].
Kardelj, N., 2010. Israel vs. Hamas. Nova Science Publishers, New York.
Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael, 2018. Fighting Fires from ‘Kite Terror’ in Israeli Fields and Forests. [online] Available from: [Accessed 5 Jan 2019].
Kydd, A.H. and Walter, B.F. 2006. Th e Strategies of Terrorism. International Security, Vol. 31, No. 1.
Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, 2018. Report: Institutionalizing arson terrorism. [online] Available from: [Accessed 3 Dec 2018].
Michael, K., 2018. Time to Reach a Settlement with a Functional and Restrained Entity in the Gaza Strip. INSS Insight, May, No. 1059.
Mikesh, R.C., 1973. Japan’s World War II Balloon Bomb Attacks on North America. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington.
Murphy, J.D., 2005. Military Aircraft: Origins to 1918. An illustrated History of their Impact. ABC CLIO, Santa Barbara.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), 2018. AAP-06: NATO Glossary of Terms and Definitions. NATO Standarization Office, Brussels.
Rinat, Z., 2018. More Fires Near Gaza Border Could Cause Irreversible Damage, Israel’s Parks Authority Warns. [online] Available from: [Accessed 13 Dec 2018].
Rosenberg D., 2018. Israel to Punish PA for ‘Kite Terror’. [online] Available from: http://www.israelnationalnews.... [Accessed 5 Jan 2019].
Shay S., 2016. Egypt’s War Against the Tunnels Between Sinai and Gaza Strip. Institute for Policy and Strategy, Herzliya.
Siman-Tov, D. and Schweitzer, Y., 2018. Hamas’s Efforts toward a Cognitive Victory in the Latest Round in Gaza. INSS Insight, No. 1119.
Siman-Tov, Y., 2007. Th e Israeli-Palestinian Confl ict. From Confl ict Resolution to Conflict Management, Palgrave Macmillan, New York.
Tress, L., 2018. With Winter Rains, Green Returns to Scorched Gaza Periphery. [online] Available from: https://www.timesofi [Accessed 28 Dec 2018].
United Nations Offi ce for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 2018. Gaza Blockade. [online] Available from: [Accessed 12 Nov 2018].
United Nations Security Council (UNSC), 2004. Resolution 1566 on Threats to International Peace and Security Caused by Terrorist Acts, S/RES/1566 (2004). [online] Available from: aw/fi les/n0454282.pdf [Accessed 4 Jan 2019].
Watkins, N.J. and James, A.M., 2016. Digging Into Israel: the Sophisticated Tunneling Network of Hamas. Journal of Strategic Security, Vol. 9, No. 1.
Whitby, S.M., 2002. Biological Warfare against Crops. Palgrave Macmillan, New York.
Yaar, E. and Hermann T., 2018. Peace Index, June 2018. Israel Democracy Institute, TelAviv.
Security analysis of drones systems: Attacks, limitations, and recommendations
Jean-Paul Yaacoub, Hassan Noura, Ola Salman, Ali Chehab
Internet of Things