Israel Shoots Down Hamas Drone Over Gaza Strip

Unmanned aerial vehicle, which took off from Gaza, did not breach Israeli airspace, army says.

A Hamas drone during a demonstration in Gaza, 2014.
Khalil Hamara, AP

Israel Air Force shot down a Hamas drone on Thursday, the Israeli military said.

An unmanned aerial vehicle that took off from the Gaza Strip was identified flying toward the Mediterranean, the army said in a statement. An Air Force F-16 was dispatched and after a few minutes of monitoring the drone it was decided to shoot it down.

The military said that the drone did not breach Israeli airspace.

Israel in the past shot down several drones operated by Hamas and Hezbollah. Thursday's incident is similar to one that took place in September, when a drone from Gaza approached Israeli airspace when it was decided to shoot it down with an air-to-air missile.

The decision to shoot the drone down was reached due to the fact that air traffic was prohibited over the Gaza Strip, the military said at the time.

Earlier in 2016, Israel unsuccessfully tried to intercept an unmanned aerial vehicle that breached its airspace. The drone entered four kilometers deep into Israeli territory before returning to Syria. The Israel Defense Forces tried to shoot down the drone three times – first with two Patriot missiles, and then with a fighter jet, which fired an air-to- air missile at it. Russia later admitted to Israel that the drone that entered Israeli airspace belonged to Russian forces stationed in Syria.