The Hamas terror group last year recovered a fallen Israel Defense Forces drone and used it to attack an Israeli tank, according to a report on Monday.
The IDF has used small multi-rotor drones during the March of the Return protests on the Gaza border, which began as weekly demonstrations in March 2018. The army has used small drones to drop tear gas on Gaza protesters and has experimented with using them to counter arson balloons and kites flown from the Strip.
The Ynet news site reported Monday that the incident involved a DJI Matrice 600 drone that was used by the IDF and had fallen in the Strip sometime before the attack incident. The small multi-rotor drone should not be confused with the larger, fixed wing drones the IDF and other armies use for long-range operations.
Hamas personnel recovered the drone, repaired the damage and managed to operate it, the report said.
They attached an explosive from a rocket-propelled grenade launcher to the drone and flew it from an agricultural area in the Strip toward Israel, looking for targets. After several minutes in the air, the aircraft approached the border and the operators saw a tank stationed in Israeli territory.
The drone’s remote pilot flew it over the tank and brought it down to an elevation of about 100 meters (330 feet), then released the missile, which hit the tank’s closed turret but did not explode, causing no significant damage.
The tank’s crew was apparently unaware of the drone, but a nearby infantry force saw the explosive’s release, opened fire on the aircraft and shot it down.
The DJI Matrice 600 is available to US consumers for around $5,600. It can reach an altitude of 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) above sea level, can fly three miles (5 kilometers) from its operator and reach a speed of 65 kmh (40 mph).
The attack marked the first time Hamas used a drone in an offensive operation against Israel, and the IDF estimated that the aircraft and RPG could have caused significantly more damage, Ynet said.
Gaza drones are still a minor threat to troops, the report said. A larger concern is terror groups deploying small drones against the IDF during wartime, to both observe and attack troops in Gaza and in staging areas near the Strip.