An Israeli fighter aircraft shot down an explosive-laden drone launched from the Gaza Strip on Thursday, Israel’s air force said.
Video released by the Israeli military shows an F-16 targeting the drone before knocking it out with a missile. The so-called “suicide drone” was carrying roughly 11 pounds (five kilograms) of explosives, the military said.
Earlier on Thursday Hamas’ military wing released video purporting to show its fighters launching so-called Shehab drones, the first appearance of such unmanned aircraft in the conflict.
The propeller-driven craft closely resembles Iran’s Ababil-T drone, a variant of which has also turned up in the hands of Yemen’s Houthi rebels for use against Saudi Arabia.
While the origin of the Hamas drones revealed yesterday remains unclear, the Ababil has been widely exported in the region by Iran. A variant of the drone was used by Hezbollah against Israeli forces in Lebanon during the 2006 war. Hamas previously displayed an Ababil drone during a 2014 parade in Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces said at the time.
Israel’s air force retaliated yesterday for the drone launches by bombing what it called the “operational apartment” of Hamas’ head of drone operations, Samer Abu Daka, in the area of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. Abu Daka’s residence was previously targeted in 2014 during the Israel-Gaza war, dubbed Operation Protective Edge by the IDF.