Yet another IDF drone crashes in southern Gaza Strip
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Yet another IDF drone crashes in southern Gaza Strip

Following latest in long string of unmanned aircraft crashes, army says no risk sensitive information on UAV compromised

Illustrative: An IDF soldier from the Artillery Corps launches an Elbit Skylark drone, known in the IDF as a Sky Rider, on January 21, 2013. (Cpl. Zev Marmorstein/Israel Defense Forces)
Illustrative: An IDF soldier from the Artillery Corps launches an Elbit Skylark drone, known in the IDF as a Sky Rider, on January 21, 2013. (Cpl. Zev Marmorstein/Israel Defense Forces)

An Israel Defense Forces drone crashed in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday, the latest Israeli unmanned aerial vehicle to go down in recent months.

The army said there was no risk that sensitive information on the drone would be comprised.

It was not immediately clear what kind of drone crashed.

The IDF launched a probe last month after two small IDF Skylark model drones crashed in the West Bank.

At the time, the head of the IDF Ground Forces Command, Maj. Gen. Kobi Barak, grounded the entire fleet of Skylark drones, a division of the Artillery Corps, until an investigation could be completed into the crashes, noting that they occur regularly.

The “sky rider,” as it is known in Hebrew, is a tactical surveillance drone created by Israel’s Elbit Systems and operated by the Artillery Corps. The miniature UAV can be launched by one or two people, depending on the model, and once airborne provides a live video feed to soldiers on the ground.

Since January, Skylarks have crashed at least seven times and another one was shot down while in operational service.

One crashed in January in southern Lebanon, prompting a mad dash by IDF forces to recover the aircraft and prevent its falling into enemy hands. Hezbollah claimed to have retrieved parts of the destroyed drone.

In March, another crashed in northern Gaza and a third was shot down in southern Syria. A fourth fell out of the sky in May near the Lebanese village of Ayta ash Shab. And on July 4, a fifth crashed in southern Gaza, where Hamas claimed to have retrieved it. On July 18, yet another crashed near Nablus, but was returned to Israeli hands by Palestinian security forces.

That apparently poor record follows a longer history of drone failures, including an August 2016 crash of an experimental Israel Aerospace Industries drone that destroyed part of a family home in the northern village of Zalafa, lightly injuring 25 people.

A Skylark also crashed in Gaza in August 2015, when Hamas claimed to have captured and reassembled it.

And in July 2015, Lebanon’s military claimed an Israeli drone crashed in the port of Tripoli in northern Lebanon.

Similar crashes were also reported in 2013 and 2014.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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