An aerial drone launched by Hamas was knocked out of Israeli airspace Monday by an Israel Defense Forces Patriot missile battery, marking the first reported use by Hamas of an unmanned aerial vehicle as a weapon and a frightening development for Israel.
“It was shot to smithereens,” IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told the New York Times.
Hamas’ military wing the Al Qassam Brigades claimed responsibility for sending a “number of drones” into Israel and described the innovation as one of the “surprises” it has been preparing for Israel, the New York Times reported.
An ABC News correspondent reported that the drone was small and unarmed.
The drone was intercepted over the coastline of Ashdod, a city that is home to southern Israel’s main Mediterranean port.
Hamas’ Al Aqsa TV aired footage it claimed was of the drone as it flew to Israel. TheBlaze is unable to independently authenticate the video or determine if it was the same drone that was shot down on Monday. Here’s a clip of that footage via NBC News:
According to the Times of Israel, air raid sirens went off in the city before the Patriot anti-aircraft battery launched a missile which struck the drone.
The Israeli Navy searched the coastline to find the drone’s wreckage.
Hamas said that it had launched drones for “special missions” over Israel, including surveying IDF bases, the Washington Post reported.
“The Hamas group claimed its engineers had manufactured three types of unmanned aircraft, including those that could be armed or used as a guided missile, a kind of suicide drone. The claims of armed drones or overflights of Israeli military installations could not be confirmed,” the Post reported.
Hamas said it planned to send more drones, a threat an Israeli military spokesman did not rule out.
IDF spokesman Colonel Lerner told the New York Times that the drone was first identified by military scanners as it took off from Gaza and that it was shot down in a place where it was least likely to harm civilians.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said that the launching of the drone was “an example of the attempts to continue to harm us by any means, and of the preparedness of the Israel Defense Forces.”
“Hamas is trying to chalk up an achievement at any price,” Yaalon said in a statement.
The New York Times noted that Israel destroyed a drone-manufacturing plant in Gaza in 2012. While Hamas is not believed to have previously launched a drone to attack Israel, the Lebanese Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah has at least twice.