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Drone Shootdown Exposes Iranian Support for Hamas

The Israel Defense Forces shot down a Gaza-launched drone over the Israeli city of Ashdod on Monday.

The New York Daily News reports:

The unmanned aircraft, about 9-feet-long, was taken out by a Patriot missile along the southern Israeli coast, near the city of Ashdod, Israeli officials said. …

Israeli officials said it was the first time Hamas militants had a launched drone since fighting escalated last month.

A specialty website, The Aviationist, identified an Iranian made drone, the Ababil 1, sighted flying over Gaza recently, and wrote about the implications of the presence of these drones.

Notheworthy, the Ababil 1 is one of the less known variants belonging to the family, which includes the Ababil 3, reportedly shot down in Iraq by a U.S. F-16 in February 2009, the Ababil 5 medium range recon drone; the Ababil-T, a a twin-tailed attack variant used by Hezbollah in northern Israel; and several other scarcely seen or unconfirmed models, as the Ababil-R and the Ababil-S. …

In fact, the group claimed on Twitter that the A1B carried out three missions over Israeli military bases and a specific mission over the Israeli war ministry but the fact the drone didn’t use any of the on board weaponry seems to suggest it does not have a real capability to use it.

The Aviationist noted that Iranian-made drones have also been observed in Syria. And while the website doubts that Abibal 1 drones seen over Gaza are armed, nonetheless it cautions that their presence “impl[ies] a significant payload” that “require larger airframes, more robust wings and engineering capabilities not believed to be in Hamas possession until today.”

The drones would be one more weapon that Iran has provided to Hamas’s arsenal. Iran’s role in arming Hamas is enough of a concern that Secretary of State John Kerry was said to have been planning to demand of Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that Iran “cease and desist” from its military support for Hamas.

[Photo: Mak Oda / YouTube ]