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Palestinian group said to film West Bank settlement with drone

Organization partly funded by EU accused by right-wing NGO of gathering footage in sensitive area surrounding Havat Ma’on near Hebron

A screenshot from footage of agricultural fields near Havat Ma'on in the West Bank, filmed by a drone operated by a Palestinian NGO. (Screenshot/Regavim)
A screenshot from footage of agricultural fields near Havat Ma'on in the West Bank, filmed by a drone operated by a Palestinian NGO. (Screenshot/Regavim)

A Palestinian organization flew a drone in recent days over fields belonging to a West Bank settlement, gathering unauthorized footage in sensitive locations according to a right-wing, pro-settlement group which tracked the incident.

The footage of the area around Havat Ma’on in the southern Hebron Hills gathered by the drone was made available to Israeli media by the Regavim organization, which said that the “documentation of settlements and locations of a sensitive nature in the West Bank crosses a dangerous red line.

The drone is said to have taken off in a Palestinian village near the settlement, flying over the people who were involved in operating the device, then over agricultural fields near Havat Ma’on before crashing in a wooded area.

The Palestinian group accused of flying the drone was identified by Channel 2 as the Ramallah-based Union of Agricultural Work Committees, which works with Palestinian farmers and agricultural professionals on a host of programs and activities in the West Bank. The group receives some funding from the European Union, Regavim alleged.

Regavim, which says it fights the “silent conquest of Israel’s national lands,” called on the Israeli Foreign Ministry to file a protest with the European Union over the incident.

An unnamed source with the European Union told Channel 2 that the operator of the drone was a freelancer and that he was filming Palestinian agricultural fields when the device was allegedly overtaken by settlers then crashed. He also demanded his drone back, according to Channel 2.

In a Facebook post in Hebrew detailing some of the events surrounding the drone incident, Regavim said it was alerted to the footage by a resident of Havat Ma’on who spotted the crashed drone in a forested area near the settlement, transferring the remains to the group’s so-called Drone Unit.

Members of the group were able to retrieve the footage from the device’s memory card, posting the video online and submitting it to Israeli media, Regavim indicated.

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