Israel-Gaza conflict: Military drone from Gaza shot down over Israel

First time unmanned aircraft like the one shown has been used against Israel

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The Independent Online

A drone from Gaza has been shot down on its way into Israel, according to authorities.

Israeli forces said it was the first time an unmanned aircraft had been encountered since the start of its campaign against Hamas last week.

More than 170 Palestinians have died in Israeli airstrikes so far and while almost 1,000 rockets have been fired into Israel, no one has been killed.

Hamas said it has developed two types of drones — one for intelligence gathering and one for delivering munitions.

The group claimed three drones were launched into Israel on Monday but the military insisted there was only one.

It was shot down in flight by a Patriot missile along Israel’s southern coastline, near the city of Ashod.

Hamas said it lost contact with one of the drones and that targets had included the Israeli Defence Ministry compound in Tel Aviv.

It was the first time the militant group publicly acknowledged it has drones in its arsenal. 

"Hamas is trying everything it can to produce some kind of achievement and it is crucial that we maintain our high state of readiness," the Israeli Defence Minister, Moshe Yaalon, said.

"The shooting down of a drone this morning by our air defense system is an example of their efforts to strike at us in any way possible."

Israel started Operation Protective Edge on Tuesday in response to rocket fire from Gaza and the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said that the offensive could last for “a long time”.

The first clashes happened on the ground on Sunday when troops were deployed to destroy an alleged rocket site in Beit Lahia. Flyers warning residents of the impending attack with a deadline to evacuate.

Thousands of Palestinians have already fled as Israeli strikes show no sign of slowing.

While the Israel Defence Force (IDF) claims it does all in its power to limit collateral damage, many of the people killed by strikes have been civilians, including women and young children.

The military has defended its tactics by saying it aims to avoid collateral damage with precision and by using “knock on the door” missiles and phone calls to warn residents in target areas.

Eight members of the same family were killed in a single strike when the warnings were used after some reportedly tried to act as “human shields” to stop the missile being fired.

The Israeli military said it was too late to stop the attack and called it a “tragic mistake” and has since uploaded videos showing airstrikes being aborted off when civilians are seen near targets.

The Government is coming under growing international pressure to end the operation.

World leaders and the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, have called for an immediate ceasefire and Egypt is continuing work to broker a ceasefire.

Additional reporting by AP