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Palestinian Kite Protest Fizzles

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip held Friday prayers for the Muslim feast of Eid al-Fitr on the tense border with Israel, but plans to set massive brush fires inside the Jewish state did not materialize.

After more than two months of weekly Friday protests on the Gaza border with Israel, the Palestinians turned to a new strategy. Instead of mass marches trying to break down the border fence, they called for smaller numbers to harm Israel in another way.

At a news conference on the border, activists vowed to send 5,000 burning kites and balloons into Israel in honor of Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim feast marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan. They described the operation as a tribute to what they called the Palestinian “martyrs” and wounded.

That was a reference to the 125 Palestinians who have been killed and thousands wounded by Israeli army gunfire since protests began at the end of March. The high casualty toll has prompted the international community to accuse Israel of excessive use of force. Israel says it has acted to protect the border.

The Palestinians’ low-tech incendiary devices have caused massive damage to Israeli farmland and forests in recent weeks. 

Israelis living along the Gaza frontier say they are fed up.

Nir Meir, who heads the movement of kibbutz collective farms, has demanded tougher government action to deal with the burning kites, which he describes as instruments of terror.

So far, Israel has not come up with an effective solution for the primitive weapon. The army is already under fire for using live ammunition against the protesters, so it is reluctant to target the kite flyers since most of them are young people and children.

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