National Security | Military Ethics | Global Far-Right Extremism | Counter-Terrorism | Antisemitism

The Solution to Kite Terrorism: A Return to the Policy of Targeted Killings

Kite terrorism and incendiary balloons are an issue that has preoccupied Israeli citizens and decision-makers for several months now.

The goal of this type of terrorism, referred to by the Hamas leadership as a “popular protest”, is to harass and exhaust the civilian population in Israel, cause damage to property, and place the Palestinian issue on the media’s agenda. The problem for Israel is that this tactic is succeeding. Those same devices, namely kites and balloons, which are ostensibly innocent objects used by children on a daily basis, have become tools in the hands of Hamas operatives and rioters capable of sowing terror and fear. These tools, whose purpose is ostensibly not to kill, have become tiebreaker devices.

The question that concerns the political and security echelons is how to stop this type of terrorism. The decision must include operational as well as ethical considerations. This article deals with ethical considerations.

Israel makes use of technological aids, such as skimmers and model airplanes, to help intercept the kites but this solution only partially addresses the problem. Another controversial solution that has been widely discussed is to bomb the kite launcher cells. In a Cabinet meeting held in July, when it seemed that kite terrorism was not going to end, the IDF was instructed to intensify retaliatory measures. However, when it comes to the question of whether it is possible to directly intercept kite-launching cells, opinions are divisive. For instance, an argument took place during the Cabinet meeting between Minister Naftali Bennett and Chief of Staff, Gadi Eizenkot. Bennett demanded that the kite-launching cells be attacked, while Eizenkot claimed that bombarding the cells with bombs launched from an aircraft contradicts the IDF’s operational and ethical position.

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