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First Palestinian Drone to Enter Israel Is Promptly Shot Down

Illustration for article titled First Palestinian Drone to Enter Israel Is Promptly Shot Down

As it braced for more rocket attacks, Israel's military says it intercepted a Palestinian drone on Monday. According to media reports, this is the first time that a drone flying from Gaza has entered Israeli air space. And according to the Israelis, the drone did not last long at all.

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"It was shot to smithereens," said Israeli army spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner. "We had it in our sights the moment it took off, and we chose where to intercept it." Evidently, the wreckage from the drone fell safely into the Mediterranean. The escalation is just the latest unfortunate turn of events in the weeklong conflict between Israel and Palestine that flared up after the murder of three Israeli youths followed by the revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager earlier this month. It also marks the most violent flare up between Israel and Palestine since 2012.

The drone incident itself, however, marks a new era of autonomous warfare for the region. While this is the first Palestinian drone to be shot down, Hamas says that it's built and deployed an entire arsenal of armed drones to fly "special missions" within Israel. (It's unclear if the downed drone was armed.) This means that drone technology is no longer the secret weapons of the world's largest armies but also a tool for guerrilla warfare as well. The Palestinians' new capability also lends credence to the growing number of reports of drone development in countries like Iran and North Korea. In the past, Israel has also intercepted at least two drones from Hezbollah in Lebanon.

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Now, the United States and the European Union are working hard to barter a ceasefire between Israel and Palestine. It'll inevitably take time to seek justice for the deaths of youths on both sides, and Hamas is also calling for an end to Israel's Gaza blockade. And it sounds like Hamas is ready to deploy more drones to make that happen. [WSJ, NYT, Reuters]

Update 4:20pm: As one commenter pointed out, it looks like the drones Hamas is currently flying are very much armed:

Illustration for article titled First Palestinian Drone to Enter Israel Is Promptly Shot Down

Image via AP

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DISCUSSION

medicalmgr
Farquest de Jamal

I would like to raise a point that I haven't seen discussed here yet. It has nothing to with "who started it" or "who is oppressed" or "who is right" or "whose land is it." (And I am not taking sides here at all.) It has everything to do with the character of people.

Take a few minutes and read newspaper articles from Israel and from Palestine (and neighbors) to see what the free press (where available), editorials and blog posts say about the conflict.

The difference between the two sides is striking.

On the Israeli side, the articles almost uniformly display distress over the loss of life on both sides, damage to property, disruption to normal life, great efforts made to spare civilians whenever possible, pain and suffering over the dead, and disgust at the murder of Mohammad Abu Khiedar (along with calls to bring his murderers to justice, and to treat them the same as all other terrorists, including the destruction of their homes).

On the Palestinian side, the articles almost uniformly display satisfaction at attempts to target enemy civilian populations, glorification of enemy deaths, celebration of killed locals, calls to civilians to act as human shields - which wins points if the enemy doesn't attack, and wins points if civilians are killed - at locations where weapons are stored and fired from, and celebrations of the kidnap and murder of the enemy's children.

The difference is radical and stark.

If you are looking for some sites from the region in English, take a look at these (presented in no particular order): www.qassam.ps, www.timesofisrael.com, http://america.aljazeera.com/,www.palestine-info.co.uk/en/, www.jpost.com.

As for the disparate numbers of deaths, Israel has an extensive bomb shelter network and a missile protection system, which Gaza does not (and should require by code, which it has the power to enforce, but does not). Also, Israel urges its citizens into those bomb shelters when the enemy fires, and Gaza urges its citizens to targeted rooftops to act as human shields. And these facts are not in dispute - take a quick look and you can find official HamasTV video footage of Gaza leaders encouraging their citizens to head toward target sites. No matter who you think is right or wrong, those are the primary reasons that the deaths are heavily on the Palestinian side.

So if you want to take sides, that's fine, take any side you want. And the back-story is a complicated, convoluted, and long one. But at least be aware how the two sides are behaving right now - that is what perpetuates the current explosive situation, and leads to tragedy on both sides.