A drone launched by the Palestinian militant group Hamas briefly infiltrated Israel on Monday before it was shot down by an Israeli missile, according to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and the Wall Street Journal. It's unclear whether or not the drone was armed, but the use of drones by Hamas marks a new front in the latest sustained outbreak of combat between Israel and Palestinian militants, in which Israeli airstrikes have reportedly claimed the lives of 172 Palestinians, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza. Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups have reportedly fired over 971 rockets on Israel, though no fatalities have been recorded as a result.
An aerial drone from Gaza infiltrated Israel a short time ago. IDF forces shot it down with a Patriot missile above Ashdod.— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) July 14, 2014
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."
Clearly, that strike did not prevent someone from developing another drone to launch at Israel. The recent round of fighting between the two longtime adversarial fronts began again in late June after the bodies of three Israeli teenage boys who went missing on June 12th were discovered, murdered by alleged Palestinian militants. The Israeli government blamed Hamas for the killings and Hamas denied responsibility. On July 2nd, a Palestinian teenage boy was kidnapped and murdered, allegedly by six Israeli perpetrators in an apparent form of revenge for the killings of the Israeli boys. Palestinian militants began firing rockets into Israel and Israeli forces launched a massive campaign of air strikes on July 8th.