Throughout the on-going Great Return March, some Gazans have sent kites and balloons equipped with flammable objects into Israeli territory. While no Israeli has been hurt, the Zionist government has seized on these incidents and engaged in absurd rhetoric around “terror kites.” Adopted by supporters of Israel, including much of the Western media, this colonial language reveals how criminalized all aspects of Palestinian life have become.
According to the Israeli government, it has suffered 2.5 million dollars in economic damage as a result of fires caused by the kites. All these fires were, however, swiftly extinguished, with the vast majority of kites intercepted by the military. In contrast to the “damage” caused by these fragile objects, the Israeli army has committed countless massacres and targeted executions during the Great Return March, killing at least 123 Palestinian protesters, wounding several thousands, and leaving many disabled.
While Israel’s actions are well-documented, the apartheid state has faced no consequences over its most recent genocidal acts. Instead, Tel Aviv has tried to use the “terror kites” as yet another strategy to categorically and collectively shift blame away from itself and toward the Palestinian people.
Complaining that international media was insufficiently reporting on the kites, the Israeli government invited foreign journalists on a press tour of the Israeli area around the Gaza fence. On June 7, the government released a statement exaggerating the “dangers” posed by these kites, using apocalyptic language that referred to “kite terrorism from Gaza,” a “new wave of terrorism,” and “kite-borne firebombs,” which were “aimed entirely at civilians.” Notably, the same statement acknowledged that the kites are “primitive” objects.
The media has uncritically recycled this narrative. The Jerusalem Post has written about “terror kites” and “kite arson.” As usual, The New York Times has similarly promoted Israel’s newest rhetoric by propagating the aggressive perspective of Israeli soldiers.
Israel’s supporters have also voiced their alarm through social media:
Part of a #Hamas kite sent to the #Gaza border to drop fire bombs on the #IDF . One of many weapons – including IEDs, guns and RPGs – used against the Israelis. @theblaze @glennbeck pic.twitter.com/GHV9CQ6Blq
— Jason Buttrill (@JasonButtrill) May 16, 2018
A kite armed with a firebomb that was launched by Arabs in #Gaza fell near a house in Kibbutz Kfar Aza and caused a fire. This is not peaceful protest!!! This is TERRORISM #Israel #IDF #UK #EU #USA #MAGA #Palestinians #GazaReturnMarch #media
— Ora Levitt (@IDFsoldiergirl) May 13, 2018
The Zionist International Fellowship of Christians and Jews pitied Israel for “battling the raging fires caused by fiery terrorist kites and balloons flown from Gaza.”
Sadly, none of these exclamations are satire. They are dangerous rationalizations and justifications for even more Israeli attacks against Gazans.
Turning these kites into a form of terrorism not only erases Israel’s military subjugation of Palestinians. It also reveals the degree of privilege Israel enjoys. In audaciously portraying itself as a victim of primitive kites, Israel undermines the horror and terror it regularly inflicts on nearly 2 million Palestinians trapped inside Gaza. As I have argued previously, Zionism’s approach towards Palestine’s unwanted indigenous population has been extensively shaped by angst. It has justified oppressive and totalitarian policies against that population by dehumanizing it and making the ethnic identity of the Palestinian people, as well as their very survival, threatening.
Some Israelis have ridiculed Palestinian suffering and tried to fly a burning kite into Gaza. For Palestinians, however, their situation is neither sarcastic nor funny, as they continue to be exterminated physically, as well as discursively, by the Israeli state.