IDF to deploy observation balloons along Egyptian border

Success in preventing rocket fire from Gaza prompts army to use ‘eyes in the sky’ to stop attacks from Sinai

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative photo of a military observation balloon. (photo credit: CC BY isafmedia, Flickr)
Illustrative photo of a military observation balloon. (photo credit: CC BY isafmedia, Flickr)

The army has decided to deploy highly sophisticated observation balloons to gather intelligence of impending missile attacks and other threats along Israel’s increasingly problematic, porous border with Egypt.

The IDF’s observation balloon crews proved their efficiency at long-range, real-time reconnaissance in last week’s flare-up of violence along the Gaza border. The balloons, equipped with state-of-the-art electronic surveillance technology, giving IDF intelligence 360 degrees of high-definition visibility for up to eight kilometers (five miles), are also armed with sensors that gather meteorological data.

“In the last week, our [balloon] networks cooperated to no small degree with IDF artillery and the air force to destroy no small number of launchers and terrorist cells,” Captain Shahar Golbary, commander of the Gaza Division’s balloon unit, said.

The balloons give IDF intelligence an accurate bird’s eye view of the battlefield, allowing speedy response to incoming threats. “When the terrain is flat the balloon can alert us long before the forces arrive at a specific point,” Golbary noted.

Earlier this week, an Israeli military official told the Times of Israel that terrorist cells in Gaza now have mere moments before they are spotted and targeted by Israeli missiles, thanks to a streamlined intelligence network and more readily available firepower. The surveillance balloons deployed at bases surrounding the Gaza Strip are the IDF intelligence gatherers’ front line.

Because of their success on the Gaza border, the IDF has now decided to station observer balloons on the increasingly problematic Egyptian frontier, Channel 10 reported on Wednesday..

Last week an Israeli civilian was killed in a cross-border attack by terrorists who penetrated the Sinai border. Two days earlier, two Grad rockets were fired into Israel from the Sinai Peninsula.

Since the fall of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak last year, the peninsula has become a lawless hotbed for Islamist groups and arms smugglers.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed
Register for free
and continue reading
Registering also lets you comment on articles and helps us improve your experience. It takes just a few seconds.
Already registered? Enter your email to sign in.
Please use the following structure:
Or Continue with
By registering you agree to the terms and conditions. Once registered, you’ll receive our Daily Edition email for free.
Register to continue
Or Continue with
Log in to continue
Sign in or Register
Or Continue with
check your email
Check your email
We sent an email to you at .
It has a link that will sign you in.