Since the ceasefire (May 6, 2019) that ended the most recent round of escalation, there has been a gradual increase in the launching of incendiary and IED balloons from the Gaza Strip. During the past two weeks it has become intensive and systematic, and caused scores of fires near the Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip border.

The balloons have been launched by a designated unit called the Sons of al-Zawari, named for the Tunisian aeronautical engineer who worked for Hamas (see below). In ITIC assessment, Hamas does not prevent arson terrorism, in order to “accustom” Israel to the fact that the ceasefire does not include the launching of incendiary and IED balloons (as well as the continuation of the return marches and their accompanying violence).

Hamas’ objective is to preserve and regulate the level of violence, exerting pressure on Israel (and the Arab states) to extract concessions (including the inflow of currency, easing passage through the crossings, advancing projects in the Gaza Strip, etc.)