Gaza's Hamas reached drone-production capabilities, military sources indicated on Friday, saying that the militant organization was in advanced development stages and was preparing to conduct flight tests.
During Operation Pillar of Defense in the recent days, the Israel Defense Forces has been striking Gaza sites that have been used as Hamas' technological development centers, including some used to work on the group's drones.
This has not been the first development in drone capabilities by Islamist groups under Iranian influence.
In October an unmanned aircraft, which was sent by Hezbollah, breached Israel's airspace, showing that the Lebanese organization had the ability to fly long-distance drones; to fly them so as to remain undetected by IDF radars; and to insert them deep into Israeli territory.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad have both shown an interest in operating these craft, but only recently have security officials indicated that such capabilities existed in the Gaza Strip.
Now, military sources said, Hamas seems to have reached advanced stages in the development self-made drones, under the watchful eye of the IDF's intelligence division.
Intelligence officials nicknamed Hamas' technological efforts "Palestinian Military Industries," a play off Israel Military Industries, estimating, however, that Iran was the actual source of the advanced know-how. Iran is also the source of Hezbollah's drones.
Officials in the security establishment indicated that after the Wednesday assassination of Ahmed Jabari, Hamas would try to score a "significant achievement," such as launching long-range missiles.
Just 25 minutes after Jabari's car was bombed, Israel Air Force crafts were already attacking 20 known locations of Fajr stockpiles. The IDF continued to strike sites define as "advanced weapons production infrastructure," which included drone-development sites.
The IDF has also been collected intelligence on sites holding anti-aircraft missiles that are too a part of the military's "target bank."