Israel Intercepts Drone Near Jordanian Border as Gaza Fighting Continues

Israel says it is examining origins of the drone, and whether it came from Syria or Jordan

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Pieces of the downed drone that crossed into Israel today.
Pieces of the downed drone that crossed into Israel today.

The military said it shot down a drone entering its northern borders with Jordan on Tuesday morning, in what appeared to be the seventh such attack since the beginning of hostilities between Israel and Hamas last week.

“Earlier this morning, a drone approaching the Israeli border in the Emek HaMaayanot area was intercepted after being monitored by the Israeli Air Force. The drone fragments were collected by security forces,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.

The IDF added that they it was examining the origins of the drone, and whether it came from Syria or Jordan. It has reported multiple drone launches by Hamas forces over the course of the fighting, including a explosives-laden unit that was downed and “fell on the launch squad” in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, killing two militants.

In a new development, several of the drones were downed by the Iron Dome interception system, which had previously not been calibrated to handle the autonomous vehicles.

The Defense Ministry announced in March that it had upgraded the system, touting a “significant upgrade” to its capabilities and bragging that it had “successfully intercepted and destroyed targets simulating existing and emerging threats, including the simultaneous interception of multiple UAVs as well as a salvo of rockets and missiles” in a test.

Tuesday’s interception was reminiscent of a February 2018 incident in which an Iranian drone launched from Syria was shot down over Israel after flying over the Jordanian border. It was downed in an attempt to prove Tehran was operating in Syria against Israel, the military said at the time. According to the IDF, the drone was armed with explosives and on its way to carry out an attack.

In response to that incursion, Israeli aircraft stuck Iranian targets in Syria, with a barrage of Syrian air-defense missiles bringing down an Israeli F-16 over Israel. Following the downing of the Israeli fighter jet, Israel said it carried out "large-scale strikes" in Syria targeting Syrian air-defense batteries and four Iranian sites.

Also on Monday, the Israeli army identified six rocket launches toward northern Israel, the army said in a statement.

Hamas has also attempted to utilize underwater drones in the current conflict. On Monday, the army announced that it hat it had thwarted an attack by a Hamas cell that intended to use a remote-controlled submarine to disable Israel Navy ships.

“The submarine that was attacked was launched from the shore in Gaza,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said. “It went a few meters deep and was directed at a target, which could have been an Israeli beach or Israel Navy boats.”

Hamas modifies its underwater drones in their workshops to accommodate an explosive payload of up to to 30 kilograms. The damage that an explosion of this size can do next to an Israel Navy boat or close to an Israeli beach is limited, but it could give Hamas the “victory photo” experts say the organization needs.

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