Militant group Hamas appears to have made extensive use of small armed drones in its surprise attack against Israel from Gaza, in addition to using paragliders as a way to ferry assailants over fortifications.
The attack took place on 7 October and saw Hamas militants breaching fences and walls, through which teams passed to terrorise Israeli citizens and seize hostages.
Social media posts suggest that drones played a role in shaping the conditions for wall breaches.
One video shot from a drone shows an explosive device dropping into an Israeli automatic gun emplacement apparently positioned along the wall dividing Gaza and Israel. The device lands in the cupola beside a machine gun and explodes.
Other drone footage, reminiscent of the war in Ukraine, shows a drone dropping an explosive device on top of an Israeli main battle tank, apparently destroying the vehicle. Another clip shows a drone dropping an explosive device on what appears to be an Israeli infantry unit, downing a soldier.
There is also footage, apparently shot before the attack, that shows Hamas forces with a winged guided munition called the Zouari, which is apparently guided to its target using a small TV camera mounted on its fuselage.
What is less clear is the role drones may have played in Hamas intelligence-gathering before the attacks, and how Hamas is using drones in reaction to Israel’s military response.
Gaza |— Younis Tirawi | يونس (@ytirawi) October 7, 2023
A successful Hamas drone attack on an Israeli military position (auto-machine gun post) near Nir Am pic.twitter.com/aGMA9KVXMT
Hamas has also posted a promotional video showing assault troops deployed via powered paragliders. Hamas used this tactic to insert forces during the attacks.
It is not clear when or where the promotional video was shot, but it shows crews landing and then assaulting mock-ups of Israeli buildings.
Israel, for its part, has responded with air strikes against Hamas targets in Gaza. A video clip on the Israeli air force’s (IAF’s) Facebook page shows air strikes inflicting massive destruction against buildings.
“Since the morning hours, IAF aircraft have attacked many targets of the terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip,” says the Israeli air force in a 10 October Facebook post.
“Among other things, the aircraft attacked a building used by the terrorist organisation Hamas in investigations and an operational infrastructure used by the terrorist organisation located inside a mosque.”
Other targets subject to Israeli airstrikes were a tunnel and weapons depots.