Israel and the Drone Wars – New Briefing from Drone Wars UK

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Drone Wars UK is today publishing a new briefing focusing on the use of drones by Israel, the only other country besides the US and the UK to have used armed drones.

Israel and the Drone Wars: Examining Israel’s production, use and proliferation of UAVs’ scrutinizes Israel’s 40 years of military drone use, the devastating effects of drone operations in Gaza, and Israel’s burgeoning drone exports.

While its drone use is shrouded in secrecy – Israel has never publicly admitted to the use of armed drones – DWUK’s research pieces together the evidence and describes the human cost to Palestinians living in what campaigners have characterized as a ‘test zone’ for drone warfare. Nader Elkhuzundar, for example, a Palestinian from Gaza interviewed by Drone Wars UK, tells of the fear instilled by the constant noise of drones flying overhead. Read more

Afghans launch legal action over British drone strike as experts suggest British drones heading to Africa

Haji Abdullah, 56, and his son Habibullah, 18, who were both killed by a drone in Helmand province in October 2011
Haji Abdullah, 56, and his son Habibullah, 18, who were both killed by a drone in Helmand province in October 2011

Legal action has been launched against the UK following the deaths of two men in an alleged British drone strike in Afghanistan.  The family of Haji Abdullah (56), and his son Habibullah  (18), say the two men were killed by a drone strike as they drove a tractor on their farm in Nawzad province, Helmand. According to The Times, their relatives watched as a high altitude drone launched a missile which struck the tractor, killing Habibullah almost instantly and leaving his father fatally wounded.  The family also said that they had registered the case with local officials without any response. Read more

Europe presses US on drones – not to cease but to share

EuropeFlagsEuropean countries are piling more pressure on the US to allow them to buy armed Predator and Reaper drones.  As we have previously reported Germany wants to buy armed Reaper drones from the US and France too has reported this week that it ‘expects’ the US to allow it to acquire unarmed Reapers as a step towards it aim of acquiring armed drone capability.

Italy meanwhile is getting frustrated with a lack of response from the US to its request to arm the unarmed Reaper that it currently operates. Read more

HRW: Israeli drone strikes killed Palestinian civilians and violated laws of war

A woman sitting in rubble after her Rafah home was flattened by an Israeli strike. Photo: AP
A woman sitting in rubble after her Rafah home was flattened by an Israeli strike. Photo: AP

Yesterday Human Rights Watch (HRW) released important information detailing 18 separate airstrikes by drones and other aircraft during ‘Operation Pillar of Defense’ in November 2012  which appeared to violate the laws of war.  At least 43 civilians including 12 children were killed in the airstrikes.

The report provides rare detail into the impact of the use of Israeli drones but shockingly has so far received almost no Read more

Gaza under drones

One week after a ceasefire came into effect, it is not yet possible to detail with any certainty the use of drones in the latest Israeli war on Gaza.  As well as armed drones, Israel used F-16s, Apache helicopters, tanks and ships to launch over 1,500 strikes on Gaza during its latest eight-day war. However according to one Israeli military source the use of drones during ‘Operation Pillar of Defense’ was “unprecedented“.

The bombardment of Gaza opened with the targeted killing of Hamas commander Ahmed Jabari  by what appeared to be an Israeli drone.  Footage of the assassination of Jabari – who was reportedly involved in ongoing peace negotiations – was posted immediately to YouTube  and began an on-line social-networking war. Read more

A Century of Drone Crashes

This week  the USAF released an accident investigation report into the crash of a US Predator drone in Afghanistan in April 2012.  This crash brings the number of drone crashes in our updated database  to 100 (see full database here) and so we thought it a good time to do some data crunching.

Our database primarily contains details of crashes of  Class 2 and Class 3 UAVs (i.e. medium and large drones – see here for explanation of drone class and size) since January 2007.  However  there are a few occasions when small drone crashes have been included for some notable reasons (i.e. crashed with another aircraft).  We continue to maintain this database  as, although safety and reliability is a key issue in the growing use of unmanned aerial vehicles, nobody appears to be publicly compiling  drone crash information.   We are not claiming that our database is complete.  Given the secretive nature of drone operations and development, it is highly likely that other drone crashes have occurred and not been publicly reported. Read more