An Israeli air force Patriot surface-to-air missile has shot down a small unmanned air vehicle that had been launched by Hamas militants from inside the Gaza Strip.

The intercept was made at 06:30 local time on 14 July, after which army and navy units began searches for debris to help with identifying the system involved Sources suggest that the UAV was launched in order to check Israel's reaction time.

Intelligence sources have suggested in recent months that Hamas is making an effort to deploy such systems and to arm them with explosives. The air force is adapting some of its systems and adding others, to be ready for a wide attack on targets inside Israel in future military confrontations using UAVs, potentially capable of carrying hundreds of kilogrammes of explosives.

Israel's airspace was breached by UAVs launched from Lebanon on at least two occasions in 2012 and 2013, apparently in a bid to perform photography missions and probe air defences. Both were shot down by air force fighters.

Hezbollah is believed to have received some heavy UAVs in Lebanon, with Iran suspected of having supplied the systems.