Drone Crashes Into House in Israeli Arab Village

Some 25 people, among them 13 children, suffer from smoke inhalation as unmanned aerial vehicle belonging to Israel Aerospace Industries causes fire in north.

A firefighter puts out the fire in the house hit by a drone, August 9, 2016.
Gil Eliyahu

A drone belonging to Israel Aerospace Industries crashed into a residential home in an Israeli Arab community in northern Israel on Tuesday, resulting in 25 people, among them 13 children, suffering from smoke inhalation.

Israel Aerospace Industries commented that the drone crashed during a test flight, and that "the company is examining the circumstances of the incident.", after the crash caused a fire in the village of Zalafa, near Umm al-Fahm. Nearly a dozen firefighter crews at the scene quelled the blaze.

"We heard a loud explosion," said Shirin Agbaria, who lives near the house that was damaged. "I immediately called the police. People live in that home. When they heard the explosion, they went outside, cried and fainted. There was a mother there with five children. She pulled them out when the fire caught."

She said it took about 15-20 minutes for rescue crews to arrive after she called the police. She noted some people panicked, leaving their houses without clothes. She added that her seven-year-old son, who was playing outside with friends at the time of the crash, said that the aircraft was burning before it crashed.

Abed Jabarin, another neighbor, said the drone hit the edge of the building and ended up inside the house. "If it had not stopped in this house it would have entered mine," he said. Jabarin said he heard a loud boom and then another three booms, after which the fire started. "I brought out my mother and two little children from inside, and we started calling the police and the firefighters," he recalled. "The children were afraid and were choking from the smoke."

The drone that crashed is a Heron 1 type, also known as Shoval, which has been in service of the Israel Defense Forces for over a decade. 

Smoke rises from site of drone crashes northern Israel. August 9, 2016.
Hatzalah Rescue Services

Other drones that have crashed in Israel include an Eitan model in 2012, which fell near Kibbutz Hafetz Haim in central Israel, during a test flight by the IAI, and a Hermes 450, belonging to the Israel Air Force, which spun out of control and landed in the sea two kilometers off Palmahim Beach in 2013. The army concluded that the cause of that crash was an engine malfunction.