IDF using autonomous drone system to try to intercept Gaza kites, balloons

GOSHAWK, developed by Beersheba-based RoboTiCan, identifies and neutralizes airborne incendiary threats without need for human input

Illustrative: An Israeli drone in flight over Gaza (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Illustrative: An Israeli drone in flight over Gaza (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

The Israeli military has begun using an autonomous drone system to counter the threat of incendiary kites and balloons in the Gaza Strip, Hadashot news reported Tuesday.

The GOSHAWK system, developed by Beersheba-based RoboTiCan, uses optic sensors to identify the launch of airborne arson devices, then launches another drone to intercept the threat and neutralize it — a process the system handles from start to finish without any human input.

The system has been deployed in the field in recent weeks and has seen some success.

RoboTiCan CEO Hagai Balshai told Hadashot the system was orginally developed to counter potential threats by drones, but has now been converted to deal with the arson problem.

For the past several months, Gazans have been regularly flying kites and balloons outfitted with containers of burning fuel, and sometimes explosives, into Israel.

The kite tactic was introduced as part of the weekly “March of Return” demonstrations at the border fence, which began on March 30.

It has since become a daily menace, with the devices burning thousands of acres of Israeli forests, farmland and brush. Some 2,500 acres of nature reserves and national parks have been destroyed.

On Tuesday, incendiary balloons from Gaza landed in a preschool yard in an Israeli community, near the border as children played outside, and in an elementary school closed for summer vacation in another community. There were no injuries.

In total, 17 fires were sparked by arson devices flown from Gaza in the course of Tuesday.

The army says hundreds of incendiary devices have been brought down through the use of drones — though most have been operated by human handlers.

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