IDF jet downs Hamas drone off the Gaza coast
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IDF jet downs Hamas drone off the Gaza coast

Army says the UAV never entered Israeli airspace, vows not to allow violations of sovereignty

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

A Hamas drone paraded at a celebration marking the 27th anniversary of the founding of the terror group in 2014. (YouTube/RuptlyTV)
A Hamas drone paraded at a celebration marking the 27th anniversary of the founding of the terror group in 2014. (YouTube/RuptlyTV)

An Israeli Air Force fighter jet shot down a Hamas drone flying from the Gaza Strip toward the Mediterranean Sea on Thursday afternoon, the army said.

The unmanned aerial vehicle never flew into or over Israeli territory, the army noted.

The drone crashed into the water off the coast of Gaza.

“The IDF will not allow any violation of [Israel’s] airspace and will operate with determination against any attempt to do so,” the IDF said in a statement.

Details regarding the size and design of the drone were not immediately released by the military.

Hamas did not immediately confirm that it had launched the unmanned aerial vehicle; however, the terror group has said in the past that it possesses such capabilities.

Unmanned aerial vehicles have infrequently been launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel. A similar incident occurred last September. In that case as well, IAF jets were scrambled to shoot down a Hamas-launched drone off the Gaza coast.

“Hamas has been developing its drone capabilities, especially in the last two years,” IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said at the time.

In addition, a UAV was sent from Gaza in June 2015, and a handful were launched during the war in the Strip in 2014.

The Defense Ministry has prevented a number of attempts to smuggle small, commercial drones into the Gaza Strip.

A drone captured by Israel en route to the Gaza Strip (Defense Ministry)
A drone captured by Israel en route to the Gaza Strip (Defense Ministry)

In May, a shipment of packages sent through the Israeli postal service was intercepted en route to the Gaza Strip, containing disassembled drones, rifle scopes, radio receivers, cellphone signal boosters and video transmitters, a statement from the Defense Ministry said.

In February, the ministry’s Border Crossing Authority foiled an attempt to smuggle several drones, of different sizes and types, into the coastal enclave.

The drones, all of which were equipped with quality cameras, were apparently set to be used for spying on Israeli targets, the Defense Ministry said.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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