Condoms have moved out of the bedroom and into the air in the Gaza Strip, where they’ve become the newest weapon against Israel.
Sometimes tied together for added buoyancy, the inflated prophylactics are attached to gas-soaked rags, other burning items or explosive devices, then flown over the border like balloons into southern Israel, where they set fire to farmlands and nature reserves.
Despite the conservative nature of Gazan society, especially under the rule of the Islamist Hamas movement, condoms are widely available in local pharmacies. They’ve joined an array of airborne incendiary devices dispatched across the border that have caused millions of shekels in damage.
An estimated 6,000 acres have been destroyed in hundreds of blazes caused by flaming kites, helium balloons, and now condoms, according to Israeli officials. Some of the fires have burned as long as 10 hours, firefighters say, ruining crops and killing wildlife.
The military has struggled to deal with these crude but effective weapons. It initially employed drones to take them down as they cross the border, but hundreds eluded the high-tech challenge.
The military has since moved on to trying to deter the launches through warning shots and airstrikes on facilities of the Hamas militant group that runs Gaza. In recent days, the fire department has reported a drop in blazes.