An Israel fighter plane yesterday shot down an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) as it flew from the Gaza Strip to the Mediterranean Sea.
The drone was intercepted before it entered Israeli airspace and landed harmlessly in the sea.
An IDF statement said: “The IDF will not allow any violation of [Israel’s] airspace and will operate with determination against any attempt to do so.”
No details were publicised about the size or design of the drone. Hamas is yet to release a statement regarding the incident, although it is widely reported the organisation was responsible for launching the drone.
Hamas has previously been suspected of launching UAVs towards Israel. Last September, the IDF intercepted a drone heading for Israeli territory. In June, a UAV crashed close to the Gaza border fence and drones were launched from Gaza during Operation Protective Edge in summer 2014. Last year Israeli authorities thwarted an attempt to smuggle drone models and disassembled drone parts into the Gaza Strip via the postal system.
Hamas is reportedly developing its drone capability as part of its arms build up since Operation Protective Edge. Hamas recently accused Israel of assassinating one of their drone experts in Tunisia and threatened that “the Zionist enemy will pay the price”.
Earlier this month, an anonymous senior IDF official told Israeli media that Hamas has succeeded in rebuilding its military strength to the level it achieved before Operation Protective Edge. The official said that Hamas’s missile arsenal has been fully replenished, in part thanks to material which has reached the Gaza Strip via the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. Although Israel destroyed roughly one third of Hamas’s attack tunnels during the 2014 Gaza conflict, the underground network has reportedly now been fully restored.