Israel shoots down Hamas drone off the Gaza coast

Army says UAV was under surveillance ‘from the moment it took off’

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Israel Air Force fighter jets on Tuesday shot down a Hamas-launched drone off the Gaza coast, the army said.

In a statement, the military said the drone was “under IAF surveillance from the moment it took off from the Gaza Strip.”

Details regarding the size and design of the drone were not released by the military.

The drone was only in the air for “a few minutes,” before it was shot down. At no point did it enter Israeli territory, a military official told The Times of Israel, on condition of anonymity.

Hamas did not immediately confirm that they had launched the unmanned aerial vehicle, however, the terror group has said in the past that it possesses the capabilities.

“Hamas has been developing its drone capabilities especially in the last two years,” IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said.

“Today’s event proves once more that Hamas continues to invest in tools of terror and not the needs of the people of Gaza,” he said.

The destroyed drone crashed into the Mediterranean Sea. It was not immediately clear if the Israel Navy would attempt to locate the fragments of the aircraft. When asked, an army spokesperson said they were “not aware” of such action.

Unmanned aerial vehicles have infrequently been launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel, with the last similar incident occurring over a year ago, in June 2015. A handful were also launched during the 2014 Gaza war.

Though Israeli jets were also scrambled in the June incident, no shots were fired as the drone crashed by itself close to the security fence in the southern Gaza Strip.

The Defense Ministry has prevented a number of attempts to smuggle small, commercial drones into the Gaza Strip.

A drone captured by Israel en route to the Gaza Strip (Defense Ministry)
A drone captured by Israel en route to the Gaza Strip (Defense Ministry)

In May, a shipment of packages sent through the Israeli postal service was intercepted en route to the Gaza Strip, containing disassembled drones, rifle scopes, radio receivers, cellphone signal boosters and video transmitters, a statement from the Defense Ministry said.

In February, the ministry’s Border Crossing Authority foiled an attempt to smuggle several drones, of different sizes and types, into the coastal enclave.

The drones, all of which were equipped with quality cameras, were apparently set to be used for spying on Israeli targets, the Defense Ministry said.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report

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