On Sunday 16 February, the Zaytoun neighbourhood east of Gaza City was rocked by an explosion that killed six members of the Hamas military wing, the
Izz Eddin Al-Qassam Brigades, and wounded a seventh, writes Mohammed Najib.
Early reports suggested the blast was caused by a car bomb which had detonated next to the group. However, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza told JTIC that
the men had been killed while preparing to test an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that exploded next to them without warning.
"The Qassam Brigades members who were killed bought the UAV through an Israeli Arab and they were intending to use it in carrying out a military
attack against an Israeli target inside Israel, or against one of the Israeli Jewish settlements inside Gaza Strip," he said.
The Hamas spokesman accused collaborators with the Israeli Security Agency ISA [Shin Bet] of duping the Qassam members by supplying them with a
JTIC understands that the Izz Eddin Al-Qassam Brigades had recently established contact with an Israeli Arab businessman and tasked him with bringing
the components of a UAV, likely to have been some type of radio-controlled model aircraft, into the Gaza Strip.
The pieces of the UAV were delivered to the Qassam members in Gaza city and were transported in a Mitsubishi pick-up truck to a farm in Zaytoun. The
men then made a phone call to their supplier for instructions on how to assemble the UAV. As they did so, a small but powerful bomb installed in one
of the UAV components exploded, killing six on the spot and wounding the seventh. An eyewitness in Gaza told JTIC that he heard the sound of an
Israeli helicopter in the vicinity before the explosion took place: an indication that the device could have been detonated by remote control.
Palestinian air threats
Reports that Palestinian militants were acquiring model aircraft for conversion into 'flying bombs' first reached the Israeli intelligence community
around a year ago, David Eshel writes.
Unconfirmed reports from Israel have stated that Palestinian agents had begun large-scale purchases of model aircraft from suppliers in Europe around
this time, early indications being that Hamas was looking to develop UAVs for short-range attacks across the Gaza border. Israeli security forces
starting putting workshops and business premises in Ramallah and Jerusalem under close surveillance. Following delivery of the aircraft, Hamas carried
out some initial test flights but quickly encountered the limitations imposed by short operating ranges and the need for 'line-of-sight' control.
Use of explosive-laden model aircraft is not the only potential form of airborne terrorism which concerns the Israeli defence community, however. In
November 1987, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command crossed the Lebanese border on a motorised hang-glider
and landed near an army camp, killing six soldiers before being gunned-down. Several further attempts to attack IDF outposts on hang-gliders have been
foiled since then.
Sorry for some reason link isnt working.
When i was a kid I always wanted a radio-controlled model plane that had machine guns on it.
[Edited on 27-2-2003 by thehippiedude]