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Months after it was downed, Iran UAV still swimming with fishes in kibbutz pond

After initial attempts at retrieval failed, IDF decided to instead wait until the pool gets drained, leaving the drone unguarded, fishery manager says

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

The remains of an alleged Iranian drone that was downed over northern Israel, parts of which fell in a fish pond in Kibbutz Maoz Haim, on May 14, 2021. (Israel Defense Forces)
The remains of an alleged Iranian drone that was downed over northern Israel, parts of which fell in a fish pond in Kibbutz Maoz Haim, on May 14, 2021. (Israel Defense Forces)

If you’re looking for an Iranian drone, you can find most of one at the bottom of a fish pond in Kibbutz Maoz Haim in northeastern Israel. It is unguarded and it will probably be there for another month.

On May 18, in the midst of the 11-day conflict between Israel and Palestinian terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip, the armed Iranian unmanned aerial vehicle was flown to northern Israel from near the Syrian-Iraqi border before it was shot down by Israeli troops, according to then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Israel Defense Forces said at the time that fragments of the drone were collected immediately. However, other parts of the UAV, including the body, landed in one of the many fish ponds in Maoz Haim, near the town of Beit She’an.

“During the first three weeks, the army tried to take it out and didn’t succeed. It feared that it was boobytrapped and it didn’t manage to drag it out of the water. And that’s been it,” Shalev Arieli, who manages Maoz Haim’s fishery, told The Times of Israel on Monday.

After failing to fish the Iranian drone out of the pond, the military initially stationed a number of guards around the area to ensure no one else retrieved the UAV. But that ended a few weeks ago, according to Arieli.

“At first there were [guards], but they’ve already left. They understood that there was no point guarding it. It’s not going anywhere,” he said.

The Israel Defense Forces refused to comment on the matter.

In the past, the IDF has rushed to retrieve fragments of downed drones and other aircraft in order to study the devices.

“They are waiting for us to drain the water. They don’t want to do it. We drain it slowly, and when we get to it, we’ll take it out,” Arieli said.

“I hope that by the end of August this will all be over,” he added.

Arieli, 61, who was born and raised on Kibbutz Maoz Haim, said he raises carp, mullet, bass and two breeds of tilapia on the fish farm.

“It doesn’t bother me,” he said. “The army’s not pressured, and we don’t have anything to do with it.”

Lazar Berman contributed to this report.

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