A rudimentary weapon of desperation

Young men prepare incendiary balloons before launching them in 2018. (photo: Osama Baba / APA images)
The use of incendiary balloons and kites from Gaza are used as a response to Israel’s use of massive and deadly force against unarmed protesters.

By Hamza Abu Eltarabesh |  The Electronic Intifada |  Jan 15, 2021

Militarily at an enormous disadvantage, people – unaffiliated individuals or members of the main resistance groups operating in Gaza, Hamas and Islamic Jihad – have thus turned to other means to show their anger, to inflict some damage back or simply to call attention to their plight.

It was a quiet night in early August.

At a signal, five men emerged silently from the cover of some trees to an agreed meeting point.

I was there, all dry mouth and notebook, observing. I’d been specially invited. Above us, only the sound of Israeli drones could be heard, patrolling the skies, electronic eyes on the ground, watching for prey.

Prey like us.

Focused and silent the men worked for an hour under the instructions of Abu Karam, the leader of this small group who is identified only by his nom de guerre. Filling condoms with helium gas, they took until just after five in the morning before they were ready.

Soon, wind permitting, the men would release a flurry of balloons carrying burning rags. The idea? To send them over the boundary from Gaza and – variables allowing – perhaps set a fire or at least cause disruption.

What was I doing here?

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