The Israel Air Force shot down a drone launched by Hamas from the Gaza Strip, the army said Tuesday.
WATCH: Footage of Hamas drone which was shot down by an IAF fighter jet earlier today. pic.twitter.com/MBPWjp9y2Y
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) September 20, 2016
The drone had been “under IAF surveillance from the moment it took off from the Gaza Strip,” the air force said in a statement. It was stopped before reaching Israeli airspace, a military official told the Times of Israel.
“Hamas has been developing its drone capabilities especially in the last two years,” IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said. “Today’s event proves once more that Hamas continues to invest in tools of terror and not the needs of the people of Gaza.”
In June 2015, Hamas launched a drone that prompted the IAF to scramble its fighters, but the drone crash-landed before reaching Israeli territory. There were also reports of drone launches two years ago during Operation Protective Edge, the fifty-day war against Hamas.
Israeli security services have twice disrupted plots this year to smuggle drones or drone parts into Gaza. In February, Israel’s Border Crossing Authority intercepted a shipment of several drones of different types and sizes in Gaza. The drones had advanced cameras and were presumable intended to allow Hamas to spy on Israeli military activities.
Hamas is also upgrading its capabilities to fight against Israel in other ways. Avi Issacharoff reported in The Times of Israel earlier this month that Hamas was spending $100 million on building up its military infrastructure. Forty percent of that money is believed to be spent on paying 1,500 diggers to build its terror tunnel network. Issacharoff also reported that Hamas was working with the Sinai-based affiliate of the Islamic State to smuggle the materials it needs for its terror infrastructure.
Israeli Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold stated in May that Hamas is confiscating 95% of cement that enters Gaza. “From our own investigations we found that out of every 100 sacks of cement that come into the Gaza Strip [from Israel], only five or six are transferred to civilians,” he stated. Hamas uses the cement to build and expand its network of tunnels.
The IDF uncovered two Hamas tunnels that breached Israeli territory in the spring. Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser, formerly the head of the research division of Israeli military intelligence and later the director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, told reporters in May that the discovery of the tunnels was a sign that Hamas was preparing for another war against Israel. He added that the tunnel digging means that “they definitely invest a lot in making the necessary preparations so that in the next round, when they decide to start it, they will be able to inflict the heaviest damage on Israel, including through those tunnels.”
[Photo: GlobalLeaks News / YouTube ]