TEL AVIV – Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced Monday that incendiary devices such as attack kites, helium balloons, and the latest — condoms — launched from Gaza into Israel are a “legitimate military target.”
“A balloon is an innocent and nice thing, but if it is used for fighting it becomes a legitimate military target,” Mandelblit said.
Mandelblit was quick to add, however, that the threat posed by the terror kites could not be compared to other weapons such as mortar and rocket fire.
He also refused to comment on the legality of targeting the people responsible for launching the kites.
“I have yet to be asked about this and I will leave it to the political leadership to ask and receive an answer,” he said.
The attorney general also discussed Israel’s response to the ongoing riots along the border, which the United Nations described as “excessive.”
Mandelblit said the situation was “complex and challenging.”
“It is permissible to kill an enemy soldier and this is the basic paradigm against Hamas, but there are other elements in this reality,” Channel 10 quoted Mandelblit as saying. “While it is permissible to kill, it is only necessary to do so if it is impossible to stop them in some other way first.”
He also slammed Hamas for “sending people to the border, among them armed terrorists who want to kill.”
“These are combatants for all intents and purposes, and the rules of warfare apply to them, i.e. to kill them,” Mandelblit said.
He added, however, that the use of live fire against other protesters must be done in accordance with army regulations.
Mandelblit’s remarks came as rioters stepped up their game, adding latex condoms to the roster of incendiary airborne devices flown over the border.
The devices are either outfitted with burning coal or petrol, or explosive devices. So far no one has been harmed by the hundreds of fires sparked by the flaming kites, but millions of shekels worth of agriculture and thousands of acres of farmland have been destroyed.
“They are not toys, they are weapons that are intended to kill and inflict damage,” IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said on Wednesday.
The IDF has fired warning shots towards groups of Palestinians preparing the incendiary devices. The weekend saw more than 20 new fires start each day, resulting in air force strikes on targets. On Sunday evening, the army struck three targets including an operating tent from which people had flown attack kites laden with burning petrol and explosive devices over the border, setting alight large swaths of land.
Israel said last week that it would limit the amount of helium allowed into the Hamas-run Gaza Strip as a result of the terror kites. The gas is being used by Palestinians to increase the distances covered by the incendiary devices.
“The entrance of helium gas into the Gaza Strip will be limited in light of the use of it by terrorists to fill incendiary balloons,” Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said. “The Hamas terror group does not hesitate to use any means, including humanitarian services and channels, in order to carry out terrorist activities. This is despite the efforts by Israel to prevent a deterioration of the civilian situation in the Strip.”
The attack kites have been decorated to include swastikas, the Palestinian flag, and warnings to Israel.
On Friday, a balloon with a bomb attached and bearing the inscription “I Love You” blocked a highway in the South for an hour before police sappers arrived to neutralize the device.
“These are terror[ist] attacks that endanger the residents of southern Israel,” the IDF said in a statement.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett on Monday called on the IDF to fire directly at Palestinians launching the terror kites.
“Explosive kites and burning balloons are not a children’s toy. They are a deadly weapon meant to kill our children,” he said.
“We must stop shooting near the target and move to shooting directly at it.”
On Sunday, hundreds of turkeys in a kibbutz near the Gaza border on Sunday died from smoke inhalation as a result of fires sparked by the incendiary devices.