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Ear to the Ground

Israel Says It Shot Down a Hamas Drone

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Posted on Jul 14, 2014

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The Israel Defense Forces tweeted the following Sunday: “An aerial drone from Gaza infiltrated Israel a short time ago. IDF forces shot it down with a Patriot missile above Ashdod.”

According to The Verge:

Hamas has allegedly been pursuing drones since at least 2012, during the last big outbreak of violence between Palestinian militants and the Israeli government. At that time, the Israel Defense Forces released a video showing what it said was a successful air strike against a reported Hamas drone in mid test-flight. The IDF claimed its air strike destroyed Hamas’ “nascent UAV program.”

Israel has been shooting down any rockets launched from Gaza deemed a threat to its people, which is partly why, with almost 1,000 launched, no Israeli has yet died. But the advent of the Hamas drone raises all sorts of issues beyond the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The United States has been using drones for years, regardless of international borders and the disproportionate threat to civilians. Eugene Robinson raised this question in a June column: “Imagine that Vladimir Putin began using drones to kill Ukrainians who opposed Russia’s annexation of Crimea. If Putin claimed the targets were ‘members of anti-Russian terrorist groups,’ what credibility would the United States have to condemn such strikes?”

At some point, world leaders are going to have to sit down and draft some rules about drones the way they did chemical and nuclear weapons. In the absence of more detail, we can only assume that a Hamas drone is pretty unsophisticated compared with an American drone, but Washington is still not going to be thrilled with the development. As the deadline for that symposium approaches, the United States, whose drone operators refer to their victims as “bug splats,” begins negotiations from a terribly awkward and hypocritical moral position.

—Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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