Israeli security guards at the Kerem Shalom border crossing into the southern Gaza Strip and Shin Bet operatives recently foiled an attempt to smuggle drones into the Palestinian enclave, the Defense Ministry announced Sunday.
During a search of an Israeli vehicle carrying toys, security guards found several drones of different sizes and types, all of which were equipped with quality cameras. Additional smuggling attempts of drones have been foiled by the Shin Bet in recent weeks.
The drones were apparently set to be used for spying on Israeli targets, the Defense Ministry said.
Israeli authorities launched an investigation into the smuggling attempts.
In March, Hamas drones reportedly flew out of the Gaza Strip and into Egyptian airspace above the Sinai Peninsula several times as the Egyptian army stood by helpless to prevent the incursions. Egyptian radar picked up three drones flying out of the southern Gaza Strip on numerous occasions, the Egyptian Al Osboa newspaper reported. The unmanned aerial vehicles penetrated as far as El Arish and Sheikh Zuweid, some 50 kilometers from the Egypt-Gaza border.
Border forces opened fire on the drones but couldn’t hit them because they were flying at an altitude of 750 meters (2,250 feet), the report said. Under the terms of the 1979 peace deal with Israel, Egypt is not allowed to station any anti-aircraft weapons in the Sinai region.
In December 2014, Hamas’s military wing launched a locally manufactured drone during a Gaza City march in honor of the founding of the group, prompting the Israel Air Force to summon jets to the area, but no shots were fired at the unmanned aircraft.
During the 2014 war in Gaza, as IDF forces battled Hamas in the Strip, Hamas launched two drones that were both blasted out of the sky by IAF-launched Patriot missiles soon after they crossed into Israel.