Israeli Army: Gaza Drone Shot Down After Crossing Border

Drone was identified by radar as heading toward neaby kibbutzim. Remnants of drone were collected to determine origins and equipment it was carrying

Gaza border near Zikim beach in southern Israel, 2018
Ilan Assayag

Israeli soldiers shot down a drone they identified crossing over from the Gaza Strip on Monday, according to a statement by the Israeli army.

Israeli radar systems identified a drone flying over the border in the northern Gaza Strip toward nearby communities, Karmiya and Zikim. It was tracked for some time before the decision was made to down it.

It remains unclear at this point how the drone was shot down. Its remnants were collected by the army and transferred for further examination in order to determine its origins and the type of equipment it was carrying.

Over the last few years, many Israelis living in the region independently operate drones to film the damage caused by conflagrations started with incendiary balloons and kites launched by Gazans from the Strip.

The Israeli army did not confirm this was not the case this time as well.

Despite steps towards establishing calm, rhetoric has been ramped up on the Gaza border in recent weeks. On Friday, the Gaza Heatlh Ministry reported that 40 Palestinians were wounded by IDF fire in protests along the Gaza border, in which four protesters breached the fence, one carrying a knife. Two were arrested, while the other two returned to Gaza before forces could apprehend them. 

The weekly protests' organizing committee called on Gazans to protest the recent economic conference in Bahrain, saying it failed because it was boycotted by Palestinians. The committee added that the Palestinians in Gaza will "continue the popular struggle with the tools at their disposal to oppose Trump."

Incendiary balloons launched from Gaza caused about 100 fires in Israeli border communities in one week in late June. Community leaders on the border are frustrated with what they perceive as the government's inaction with regards to the arson and rocket attacks.   

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that although the government prefers calm, "we are preparing for a large-scale military operation, if necessary."