Palestinian media outlets cited Israeli reports as saying that the Palestinian forces had taken control of the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) after it was downed in the northern part of the Gaza Strip on Monday night.
The aircraft brings to four the number of Israeli drones shot down by the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance fighters over the past two weeks.
Israel’s English-language Jerusalem Post has lamented that “Israeli military drones are dropping like flies” in the Lebanese and Palestinian territories, as resistance forces gain momentum in their defense against the Israeli regime intrusions.
Palestinian resistance fighters shot down an Israeli quadcopter on January 31 over Beit Hanoun Crossing on Gaza’s northern border with the occupied territories. The drone was shot down while taking images of the area, according to the Arabic-language Palestine Today news agency.
On February 1, the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement downed an Israeli UAV as it crossed into Lebanon near the border village of Blida. In a statement after the incident, Hezbollah said it was in control of the drone.
On February 2, Palestinian fighters shot down another Israeli drone east of the city of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip and took control of it.
The Israeli military frequently uses drones over the Gaza Strip either to monitor and photograph Palestinian military units or launch aerial attacks against targets.
The Tel Aviv regime also frequently violates Lebanon’s airspace in flagrant violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 and the country’s sovereignty.
Israel blocking COVID-19 vaccines to Gaza
Separately, Palestinian Health Minister Mai al-Kaila said in a statement on Monday that Israel had blocked the transfer of some 2,000 coronavirus vaccine doses destined for health workers into Gaza.
Israel has “full responsibility for this arbitrary move,” said al-Kaila, adding that the Health Ministry was coordinating with international organizations to allow the vaccines into the blockaded strip as soon as possible.
The Gaza Strip has been under Israeli land, air, and sea blockade since June 2007, after Hamas, which has vowed to resist Israeli occupation, rose to power in the enclave of two million. The blockade has caused a sharp decline in the standard of living as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty in the strip.
About 115,000 coronavirus cases have been reported in the West Bank, including nearly 1,400 deaths, and almost 53,600 cases have been registered in Gaza, including 537 deaths.
International rights groups and the UN have urged Israel, which began its coronavirus inoculation drive on December 19, to guarantee coronavirus vaccine doses for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip.
Earlier this month, the Palestinian Authority (PA) received 10,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.
The ban on the delivery comes as Israel is mulling linking the transfer of the vaccine doses to Gaza to the release of the remains of two Israeli soldiers who were killed in the 2014 Israeli war on the blockaded enclave and two Israeli captives held in Gaza since then.
The Jerusalem Post reported on Monday that a number of officials told the Knesset foreign affairs and defense committee that “No vaccines have been transferred to Gaza” to date.
According to the report, Col. Eyal Zeevi, who heads the operations department for the Office of the COGAT, an Israeli military unit, said the transfer of 1,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik vaccines, which had been delivered to the PA earlier this month, had been delayed pending Israel’s decision on Gaza policy.
FADC chairman MK Tzvi Hauser called for demanding, at the very least, information regarding the fate of the captive Israelis Hisham Al-Sayed and Avera Mengistu.
Maximally, he said, the demand should be both for the release of the two captives, and the return of the remains of the two Israeli soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul.
The Palestinian Hamas resistance movement said the Israeli captives held in Gaza since 2014 will not be released until a “real” agreement is reached on exchanging prisoners.
The debate whether to allow the PA to transfer the doses was, however, decried by the Arab Joint list member of the Knesset, Ofer Cassif as both “criminal and shameful.”
Israel’s so-called “National Security Council” is expected to state its opinion on Tuesday.