The Palestinian militant group Hamas unleashed a series of kamikaze drones in a surprise attack on Israeli targets. This attack, which was captured in a short video released by Hamas, has raised concerns about the evolving capabilities of non-state actors in the realm of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The video footage, circulated on social media, provides a glimpse of improvised kamikaze drones flying over the streets of Sderot, a southern Israeli city. This revelation highlights the audacious use of loitering munitions by Hamas, which are characterized by their ability to linger over target areas until a suitable target is located, thereby reducing reaction times and enabling more selective targeting.
The Izzedine al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, claimed responsibility for launching over 25 kamikaze drones in this recent attack. Among these drones were Al-Zawari wing-type models that successfully destroyed Israeli targets, including vehicles and equipment. The deployment of such technology demonstrates the sophistication and adaptability of Hamas’ UAV program. Hamas has a history of investing considerable resources into developing its UAV capabilities. During the 2014 conflict in Gaza, the group attempted to use drones for reconnaissance and even launched a drone with the intention of attacking targets within Israel. Although these early attempts were neutralized by Israeli defenses, Hamas saw them as symbolic victories, showcasing their commitment to challenging Israeli airspace.
Hamas relies on external support, primarily from Iran, for the acquisition of advanced UAV technology. Iran has been documented as a key supplier of drones and UAV technology to its proxies, such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Moreover, Iran is reportedly assisting in the construction of a fleet of suicide drones for these groups, alongside providing crucial training and assembly instructions. The recent use of kamikaze drones by Hamas underscores the group’s determination to employ advanced technology in its asymmetric warfare tactics. As these capabilities evolve, it becomes increasingly important for Israel and its regional allies to enhance their counter-UAV measures. Additionally, the support provided by state sponsors to non-state actors in the realm of UAVs remains a significant concern, emphasizing the need for international efforts to curb the proliferation of such technology to militant groups.