Israel Air Force fighter jets shot down a Hamas-operated drone over the Gaza Strip on Tuesday afternoon, the IDF reported. The drone was over the Gaza coastline when the IAF took aim and brought it down.
An IDF spokesperson said that the drone had been “under IAF surveillance from the moment it took off from the Gaza Strip.”
“The IDF will not permit any violation of its air space, and will act with determination against any such effort,” added the military.
The drone was in the air for just a few minutes before the IAF took it out, though it did not enter Israeli air space at any point, the Times of Israel reported.
Once hit, the drone crashed into the Mediterranean, the army said.
Hamas is known to be developing drone capabilities, “especially in the last two years,” IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said.
Last June, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) crashed-landed in Israel after it was launched from the Gaza Strip. Hamas’s military wing claimed credit, saying it had launched “several unmanned aerial vehicles to perform special tasks deep within Israel.”
In July of 2014, during Operation Protective Edge, a drone launched from the Gaza Strip was shot down after illegally entering Israeli airspace. In December of the same year, Hamas’s military wing launched another drone into Israel, causing Israel to scramble its jets.
The blockade on the Gaza Strip ensures that it is difficult for Hamas to get its hands on weapons and terror materials, but the group has become adept at smuggling. An attempt to sneak a shipment of drones disguised as toys into the Strip this past February was busted by Israeli security forces at the border.
The delivery truck had been carrying several spy drones of different shapes and sizes. All were equipped with cameras. The Defense Ministry said that Hamas had likely been planning to use the drones to spy on Israeli military activity.