Drone sent into Israel as death toll hits 175
The Israeli military said it downed a drone launched by militants in the Gaza Strip, the first time it encountered an unmanned aircraft since the start of its offensive last week, as new Israeli airstrikes pushed the death toll from a week of Israeli action to at least 175.
Israel began its campaign against militants in the Gaza Strip last Tuesday, saying it was responding to heavy rocket fire from the territory.
The military says it has launched more than 1,300 airstrikes since then, while Palestinian militants have launched nearly 1,000 rockets at Israel.
The use of the unmanned drone marked a new and unexpected tactic by Hamas, which has never before acknowledged having such weapons.
Although it was quickly shot down, the drone represented a new level of sophistication for the militant group. In the past, Hezbollah militants in Lebanon have sent at least one drone into Israel that also was shot down.
The Israeli military said the drone was shot down in mid-flight by a Patriot surface-to-air missile along the southern Israeli coastline, near the city of Ashdod.
A senior military official said that Israel was aware that Hamas possessed drones, and that Israel has targeted Hamas drone facilities in Gaza before.