July 18, 2018 1:53 P.M. (Updated: July 19, 2018

The “incendiary kites unit” of the Gaza Strip announced on Wednesday that the amount of incendiary kites and balloons targeting Israeli areas surrounding Gaza would increase as a response to the increased siege on the Gaza Strip.

The unit, calling themselves the “Sons of Zouari” in reference to Tunisian engineer assassinated by the Israeli Mossad, denied any reports published by Israeli Hebrew-language media, that the Hamas movement will stop the launch of more incendiary kites and explosive balloons or that the amount of launched kites would decrease within the next 72 hours.

The unit said in a statement that their peaceful resistance will continue until their demands are met and until the siege of the Gaza Strip is lifted.

The statement added that factions in the Gaza Strip would not stand between them and peaceful resistance.

The announcement came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to impose severe economic sanctions by closing Gaza Strip’s main commercial crossing, Kerem Shalom, and limiting the Palestinian coastal enclave’s fishing zone in response to the protests in form of incendiary balloons across the borders.

About 6,000 dunams (1482.6 acres) of agricultural produce as well as thousands of dunams of open fields were burned due to about 678 fires caused by incendiary kites and balloons flown from inside the Gaza Strip into Israel.

Hamas instructs members to stop balloon terrorism – YNET

Amid pressure from Egypt and fear of an Israeli military campaign in the strip, the Gaza terror group is signaling to its fighters on the ground to stop leading the incendiary balloon and kite terrorism; balloon fliers: ‘We receive orders from no one, we won’t stop.’
Elior Levy, Matan Tzuri|Last update: 07.18.18

Hamas has instructed its fighters over the past 24 hours not to fly any more incendiary balloons toward Israel, after it has been directing, organizing and controlling the incendiary balloon operations in recent weeks, causing hundreds of fires in the Gaza border area.

The Gaza terror group has also been making efforts to stop others not of its ranks from flying the incendiary balloons.

But members of Gaza’s incendiary balloons and kites unit said they will continue sending the incendiary devices towards Israel despite Hamas’s instructions.

“We receive orders from no one and our peaceful resistance will continue until our demands are met and the siege over Gaza is lifted. The worse the siege becomes, the bigger the amount of fires, and they will reach greater distances,” they said in a statement.

On Tuesday, an incendiary balloon landed in outside a kindergarten in the Sdot Negev Regional Council. The children who were playing outside were not hurt.

Hamas’s tactical decision comes in the wake of heavy pressure Egypt has been exerting on the terror group in recent days, as well as messages passed on to Gaza by other sources, that continuing the balloon terrorism could result in Israel launching a military campaign in the Gaza Strip.

Egypt has decided to give Hamas a few days to put a stop to or at least significantly reduce the incendiary balloons in the wake of Hamas’s insistence that it cannot stop the incendiary balloons all at once.

“Hamas can’t stop the balloons because it will undermine its position with the residents of the Gaza Strip and its own supporters. It would be seen as capitulation, and therefore it must be done gradually,” a source in the Gaza Strip told Ynet.

At the same time, another unforeseeable problem emerged for the terror group: Hamas’s leadership abroad informed its Gaza leadership that it would no longer be able to continue financing the “March of Return” campaign, which is estimated to have already cost tens of millions of shekels. In addition to the expensive organization of the protests, the funding includes money Hamas gives to the families of those killed and the thousands wounded in the clashes on the border.
Following the closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing to fuel and gas, there has been a spike in prices in the strip amid fears of an energy crisis. Sources in the strip estimate that by Thursday, the gas supply in the Gaza Strip will be completely depleted.

However, the Israeli announcement that the Kerem Shalom crossing will remain closed until Sunday is intended to signal to Gaza that Israel is still willing and prefers giving a chance to calming the tensions than launching a new round of violence.

Limiting the crossing’s closure, as well as the extension Egypt has given Hamas to stop the balloon terrorism, attest to the close coordination between Israel and Egypt in the efforts to calm the situation.