Article By: Zvi Manasseh
The Efrat Local Council held a ceremony on Sunday to celebrate the launch of the first in a series of advanced drone designed to locate, track and prevent infiltration of the community by terrorists and criminals.
The drone, donated by the International Fellowship for Christians and Jews, has been tested in the skies above Efrat, south of Jerusalem and will serve as a real-time pinpoint emergency tool to help prevent infiltration attempts into Jewish communities by Arab terrorists. More drones will soon be sent to protect Jewish communities adjacent to Gaza.
The development comes not long after the IDF moved to ban all unregistered drones from being flown in Judea and Samaria. According to local officials, this is the first such policing drone intended for civilian use has been launched in Israel. In recent months, Israeli security has been challenged by a number of incidents involving drones and other flying objects.
Recently Israeli residents and IDF forces stationed on the Gaza perimeter have come under a novel form of attack from Hamas, as kites bearing Swastikas and petrol bombs have been sent into Israeli territory. Last week, a fire broke out in an Israeli wheat field near Kibbutz Be’eri outside the Gaza Strip, ignited by a kite carrying a canister of burning liquid. In February, an Iranian drone penetrated Israeli territory adjacent to the Syrian border. It was tracked for several minutes before being shot down by an Israeli-operated Apache helicopter. Israel later revealed that the drone was carrying explosives.
The Israeli drone released this weekend, costing some $37,000, is designed to allow users connected to the controls the ability to observe through the inbuilt cameras, and follow suspicious activity anywhere in the mountainous Efrat terrain, thus making the community less prone to sneak attacks. In addition to traditional cameras, the drone carries thermal imaging technology and other high-tech features, allowing it to function in all kinds of weather conditions, and for longer periods than traditional drones, which are typically limited to ten to thirty minute flights.
The idea to develop such a drone first arose in December 2016, after a terrorist managed to enter the community, and succeeded in stabbing a 50-year old resident multiple times as he walked home from synagogue with his wife. The terrorist was never caught. Although all such communities are guarded by the IDF and have local civilian guards, the feeling of helplessness was overbearing and the local authorities worked together intensively with the military and technology entrepreneurs to develop the new, specialized drone.