The New Middle East Arms Race Is Not What You Think

    Michael Peck

    Security, Middle East

    Kites vs drones. 

    ‘Tis the time’s plague when toy drones battle kamikaze kites.

    In the long, bloody Middle Eastern arms race, two new contenders have appeared. In the one corner is Hamas, which is so outgunned by Israel that it has resorted to launching flaming kites across the border to set Israeli farms ablaze. But the Israelis have their own secret weapons: toy drones, flown by civilian hobbyists, to intercept the incendiary intruders.

    The weird aerial duel began in March, during bloody clashes between Palestinian protesters and militants, and the Israeli military, along the fence separating the Israel-Gaza border. Lacking weapons to take on Israeli forces, and also wary of firing rockets into Israel that might trigger an Israeli invasion, the Palestinians came up with a clever solution.

    They launched numerous kites armed with Molotov cocktails—or even an explosive charge—that float across the border into southern Israel. While they were not rockets or mortar shells, make no mistake: they aren’t toys. While no Israelis have been injured, as many as 4,300 acres of farm and parkland have been burned by the homemade incendiary weapons.

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    However, the Israelis quickly came up with a clever countermeasure: anti-kite drones. More specifically, one-pound racing quadcopters. Their armament? Hooks. Yes, hooks, like the talons of an eagle.

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