A drone armed with explosives launched from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip fell in southern Israel last week, the IDF confirmed. The drone, which was launched from the northern Gaza Strip at night, was recovered whole “a few days ago” after it landed in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council.
An investigation has been opened into the incident. According to a report in Haaretz, the military is examining whether the drone was launched with the intention of injuring Israeli soldiers and whether it fell before it reached its intended target where it was going to explode, or if the individual who was operating it lost control of it.
Both the Islamic State and Hezbollah have used weaponized drones to carry out attacks, and since Operation Protective Edge in 2014, Hamas has invested in its drone capabilities. In recent years Hamas drones have on occasion come near to and sometimes even breached Israeli airspace, leading the IDF to scramble jets or fire missiles.
In February 2017, a Hamas drone was intercepted by an Israeli F-16 as it was making its way towards Israel from the Gaza Strip and fell into the sea after being shot down. The previous year Hamas’s chief drone expert and engineer Mohamed Zouari was assassinated in Tunisia in an operation blamed on the Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence agency.
According to Hamas’s armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, Mohammed Zawari had been supervising its drone program and was gunned down in his car near his home close to the city of Sfax.
In 2012 during Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza, the IDF said it struck Hamas facilities that were being used to develop drones capable of carrying explosives, with the GOC Southern Command at the time Maj.Gen. Tal Russo saying that the IDF destroyed “advanced weaponry like the development of a UAV that isn’t used for photography but for attacks deep inside Israel.”
Gazans have been protesting along the border with Israel for the past seven weeks as part of what organizers have called the Great March of Return with demonstrators throwing stones, Molotov cocktails, rocks and incendiary kites towards Israeli troops.
Hadashot TV news reported Saturday night that 300 incendiary kites have been flown into Israeli territory from Gaza since April 13, setting off over 100 fires and destroying thousands of acres of agricultural fields.
On Sunday, three Palestinians were killed after IDF tanks shelled an observation post in the southern Gaza Strip after an improvised explosive device hidden in bolt cutters was placed on the security fence.
Palestinian Maan News Agency has quoted the Gazan Health Ministry reporting that 119 Palestinians have been killed by IDF fire and over 13,000 wounded since the “Great March of Return” began on March 30th.