Middle East Monitor / December 24, 2019
Despite the end of the Israeli attack on Gaza in mid-November, Israeli drones known as quadcopters have not left the besieged Strip’s airspace, particularly the eastern and northern areas adjacent to the fence. They are pursued and shot by resistance factions that have downed several of them.
The armed Palestinian factions believe that these Israeli aircrafts pose a security threat to them, given their ease of use in assassinations. The factions have sent circulars to their members on how to deal with these planes and instructed them to confront them as soon as they enter Gaza’s airspace.
The following article will discuss the increase of planes in Gaza’s airspace, the types of aircraft, their intelligence objectives, and whether Palestinian predictions regarding obtaining information about Israeli prisoners in Gaza, or their preparation for the assassination of Palestinian leaders, are real or exaggerated.
The Israeli army revealed that a quadcopter drone was behind the assassination of the Islamic Jihad commander, Baha Abu Al-Atta, in his home in the Shuja’iyya neighbourhood, in the middle of the Gaza Strip in mid-November. The drone accurately filmed his house and a few minutes before his assassination, the drone flew over his house, approached the balcony, travelled towards his room and took his picture. His home was then bombed by Israeli warplanes.
The quadcopter drone is considered one of the most prominent aircrafts used by the Israeli Air Force in search, control and assassination operations due to its great technological advantages. The plane has great manoeuvrability, can perform highly complex movements and its maximum speed reaches 60 kilometres per hour.
This aircraft can self-destruct in addition to carry out major, sensitive and accurate killings with the munitions it carries, and it has the ability to determine its targets accurately. It can strike these targets from a distance. It is used for surveillance and reconnaissance purposes by the Israeli army because it is small, can fly quietly and its camera can be used for surveillance, as well as the task of dropping ammunition.
Field data I obtained by monitoring the situation in Gaza indicates that the Israeli Air Force has intensified the use of these drones in the aftermath of the recent confrontation. This has forced the Palestinian resistance factions to pay careful attention and caution towards the goals and purpose of these drones because they could be aimed at spying to obtain more security information. They could also be seeking to strike vital and sensitive targets in the Gaza Strip or cause confusion in the ranks of the resistance and disrupt their fieldwork.
The security authorities in Gaza issued warnings about the danger of these drones and instructed Palestinians not to approach them if they are shot down or fall. They were instructed to immediately inform central operations if they approach any area in Gaza.
The Palestinian resistance factions, especially the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, have been trying to control these Israeli drones that are on a special mission inside the Gaza Strip.
It has become customary for the resistance factions, after they take control of these drones once they are shot down, to subject them to examination and study by specialised engineers and technicians in order to learn from them and obtain any information that could benefit the resistance.
The repeated success of the Palestinian resistance in Gaza in shooting down this type of aircraft is a major achievement, despite their lack of capabilities and it may benefit it in developing the simple drones it possesses.
Israel’s intensified use of these planes in Gaza is part of the secret undeclared war between the Israeli security forces and resistance forces, specifically the military wings. This war has taken on many forms and stages.
Recent Palestinian security achievements prove that the resistance in Gaza in particular continues to defy Israeli intelligence by fighting a psychological war against it.
The Israelis admit that the successive operations exposing their failures indicate that Hamas has set up a secure media system to manage its message to the world, which has become a serious challenge to Israeli security.
It is clear that Hamas is seeking to reveal the confusion experienced by the elite units in the Israeli army, to the extent that the movement commemorated its 32nd anniversary with this security achievement and therefore its military wing has been revealing from time to time new security information.
Moreover, Hamas’ endeavour to continuously reveal the incidents of Israeli security failure in Gaza aims to provoke more storms inside Israel and to allow it to benefit from its reactions.
It is true that the Israeli army has learned lessons from the failure of its security operations and is working to reduce the damage caused by it after the earthquake it was subjected to, but it has become certain that it should not underestimate Hamas’ capabilities. This is especially the case regarding the communications system that tries hard to escape the Israeli radar. This means that we are facing an intelligence and technological psychological war, which will increase the use of these drones, either to carry out assassinations or to gather intelligence security information.
Adnan Abu Amer is a Palestinian academic