By Debbie Reiss, World Israel News -
Israel Defense Forces units in Judea and Samaria are now permitted to use armed drones during counterterrorism raids, pending approval from IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi.
The order cam amid an uptick of violence, with several terror attacks against Israelis as well as firefight between Palestinian gunmen and IDF troops.
Four Palestinian terrorists were killed and 44 others injured in Jenin on Wednesday after firing on IDF troops targeting the home of the brother of the man who carried out a deadly attack at a café in Tel Aviv in April.
The subject of armed drones was raised again during a meeting of military brass later on Wednesday that included Kohavi, Central Command chief Maj.-Gen. Yehuda Fuchs and Judea and Samaria division commander Brig.-Gen. Avi Blot.
Earlier this month, Israeli media reported that IDF commanders, including the head of IDF forces in Judea and Samaria and the commander of a brigade in charge of the Jenin and Tulkarm areas, had undergone training for the use of drones.
The commanders will be trained to use Elbit’s Hermes 450 (known as Zik in Hebrew), according to The Jerusalem Post.
Air Force squads have used armed drones as far back as 2008 but only in targeted assassinations against terrorists in Gaza. They were also employed heavily during the recent flareup against the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group in the Gaza Strip. Until August, a gag order prevented Israeli journalists from reporting on attack drones.
This is the first time armed drones will be used in Judea and Samaria.
Drones comprise about 80% of the total operational flight hours in the Air Force.
Image: Nehemia Gershuni-Aylho www.ngphoto.biz, CC BY-SA 3.0 <;, via Wikimedia Commons