Israeli jets down drone launched from Gaza
search

Israeli jets down drone launched from Gaza

Incident comes as border crossings and fishing zone reopen with return of relative calm after days of Palestinian rocket fire, retaliatory Israeli strikes

Illustrative -- An Israeli Air Force F-15 fighter flies during an aerial show at a graduation ceremony for soldiers who have completed the IAF Flight Course, at the Hatzerim Air Base in the Negev desert, December 29, 2016 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Illustrative -- An Israeli Air Force F-15 fighter flies during an aerial show at a graduation ceremony for soldiers who have completed the IAF Flight Course, at the Hatzerim Air Base in the Negev desert, December 29, 2016 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Israeli fighter jets downed a drone launched from the Gaza Strip on Thursday, the army said.

The drone was flying “in an unusual way” westward over the Mediterranean, the army said, without specifying whether it was outfitted with explosives or dangerous materials.

The UAV was flying at 1,700 feet, five to eight miles off the coast, when it was hit by an Israeli F15 jet just before 11 a.m., the army said.

In general, the Israeli military does not interfere with drones flying over the Gaza Strip unless they approach the border or fly at especially high altitudes. In October and November of last year, the army shot down three drones in separate incidents.

Thursday’s incident came as Israel was relaxing its restrictions on the Gaza Strip as violence emanating from the Hamas-run enclave waned.

Over the course of Sunday and Monday, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group fired roughly 100 rockets and mortar shells at southern Israel. In response, the Israel Defense Forces launched several waves of retaliatory strikes against the organization in Gaza and — in a highly irregular move — inside Syria.

Rockets are launched by Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip toward Israel, February 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Fighting ended late Monday night with Islamic Jihad announcing it would stop firing rockets if Israel also halted airstrikes.

In light of the relative calm along the border, Israel decided to fully reopen the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings Thursday and to again allow Palestinian fisherman to operate off the Gaza coast, up to 15 nautical miles from the shore.

Israel closed the crossings and fishing zone on Monday as rockets and mortar shells pummeled Israeli cities and towns around the Gaza Strip and left the closure in place Tuesday and Wednesday.

The fighting was touched off on Sunday morning when Israel killed a member of Islamic Jihad, who the IDF said was planting a bomb along the border, and then sent a tractor into the Strip to retrieve the corpse, in an operation caught on film that angered many in Gaza and around the world.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars and numerous skirmishes since the group seized control of Gaza from the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority in 2007.

Judah Ari Gross, agencies contributed to this report.

read more:
comments