IDF: Explosives-laden drone from Gaza discovered in Israel

UAV found last week in northern Negev was designed to injure security forces patrolling border, army says

Illustrative: A drone belonging to the al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' armed wing, flies over Gaza City on December 14, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/MAHMUD HAMS)
Illustrative: A drone belonging to the al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' armed wing, flies over Gaza City on December 14, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/MAHMUD HAMS)

The IDF announced Sunday that an explosives-laden drone flown over the border from the Gaza Strip was discovered in Israeli territory last week.

The army said the drone was found in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, in the northern Negev, “several days ago,” and that it was flown over the border from Gaza with the intention to injure Israeli soldiers patrolling the area.

The army said the drone was recovered whole, and an investigation into the incident had been opened.

The announcement came hours after after the IDF discovered an improvised explosive device placed along the Gaza security fence. The army said the IED targeting IDF troops was disguised to look like a set of bolt cutters.

In response to that discovery, Israel fired on an Islamic Jihad position in the southern Gaza Strip, killing three people. A spokesperson for the Iran-backed terrorist group confirmed the men were members of its military arm.

In February, four Israeli soldiers were injured by an IED that was made to look like a flagstaff, which was fixed to the security fence. When the soldiers tried to take down the object, it was detonated.

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Sunday morning’s exchange was the latest in a series of cross-border incidents over the weekend.

Late Saturday night, Israeli aircraft carried out a series of strikes against Hamas positions in the southern Gaza Strip late Saturday night, in response to a border breach earlier in the day, the army said.

Palestinian media reported that the airstrikes hit a number of Hamas positions in the areas of Rafah and Khan Younis. The Gazan health ministry said it had not received any reports of injuries.

As a matter of policy, the Israeli army considers Hamas, which rules Gaza, to be responsible for any attack emanating from the beleaguered coastal enclave.

On Saturday morning, IDF soldiers spotted four Palestinians who crossed the security fence into Israel from the southern Gaza Strip.

According to the army, the four threw a firebomb, and left a tent inside Israel with the message: “March of Return: Returning to the lands of Palestine.”

An improvised explosive device, disguised to look like a set of bolt cutters, found at the Gaza security fence on May 27, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

The soldiers arrived at the scene moments later and opened fire at the individuals, who in turn fled back to the Palestinian side of the fence. No injuries were reported in the Saturday morning incident.

The infiltration was one of numerous attempts over the weekend to breach and damage the border fence, the IDF said.

Dozens of burning kites were flown from Gaza across the border over the weekend, sparking several fires in Israeli fields, Hadashot TV news reported Saturday night. In the past month, 300 “attack” kites have been flown across the border, the report said, setting off 100 fires.

Since March 30, tens of thousands of Palestinians have taken part in weekly protests which Israel says are orchestrated by Hamas and used as cover for attempted terror attacks and breaches of the border fence.

The violent demonstrations were meant to end on May 15, but Hamas leaders have said they want them to continue. Over 10,000 Gazans took part in the demonstrations in the course of Friday and Saturday, the army said.

Palestinians burn tires along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, east of Khan Younis, on May 25, 2018. (AFP Photo/Said Khatib)

The demonstrations came to a head on May 14 when the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem and at least 60 Palestinians were killed in clashes — almost all of them Hamas members, the terror group has acknowledged.

On Friday, strong winds hampered efforts to control fires which broke out at three points near Kibbutz Kissufim along the Gaza border, after incendiary kites were flown into Israel from the Palestinian coastal enclave.

Military planners have begun implementing new measures to combat the assaults, including lethal options drawn from the IDF’s responses to rocket launches and other terror attacks.

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