Israeli army announced Tuesday that one of its warplanes had “intercepted” an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over the coast of the Gaza Strip, Anadolu Agency reported.
According to an Israeli army statement, the unarmed UAV — which, it claimed, belonged to Palestinian resistance movement Hamas — had been under surveillance by the army from the moment it took off from the Gaza Strip.
While the army statement merely said the UAV had been “intercepted” by Israeli military aircraft, army spokesperson Peter Lerner told Anadolu Agency that the drone had been shot down.
Lerner, however, declined to describe the alleged UAV in any detail.
An Israeli army statement quoted by Israeli media said that the army “will not permit any violation of its air space, and will act with determination against any such effort,” though it also said the drone did not cross into or fly though Israeli airspace.
Head of foreign media for the Israeli army Peter Lerner said later on social media that “today’s event proves once more that Hamas continues to invest in tools of terror and not the true needs of the people of Gaza.”
Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post cited two incidents over the last two years when Hamas drones breached Israeli airspace, one of which was shot down by the Israeli air force during Israel’s devastating 51-day aerial offensive on the Gaza Strip which resulted in the killings of at least 1,462 Palestinian civilians, a third of whom were children according to the UN.
The Jerusalem Post also added that Israeli authorities “foiled an attempt” to smuggle drones into Gaza in February.
According to Israeli authorities, the drones were earmarked for use by “terrorist elements in Gaza” to gather intelligence on the movements of the Israeli army.
The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, has yet to comment on the army’s claims.
Meanwhile, Israeli military incursions inside the besieged Gaza Strip and near the “buffer zone” which lies on both land and sea sides of Gaza, have long been a near-daily occurrence.
Witnesses said that four army bulldozers and two excavators escorted by military vehicles advanced 10 meters inside the Gaza Strip and razed lands.The day prior, Israeli naval forces shot and injured a 30-year-old Palestinian fisherman sailing off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip.
Palestinians who work near the “buffer zone” between the Palestinian enclave and Israel often come under fire from military forces, as the Israeli military has not made clear the precise area of the designated zone.
The Israeli army regularly open fires on Palestinian fisherman and farmers along the border areas, despite a ceasefire agreement that ended the 2014 war.
The practice has in effect destroyed much of the agricultural and fishing sectors of the blockaded coastal enclave.