16:45 GMT +323 October 2017
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    In this July 9, 2013 file photo, an Israeli soldier holds up a Skylark I (Rochev Shamayim) unmanned drone as part of a demonstration for Israel's Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, center, in an urban warfare army training facility, near Zeelim, southern Israel.

    Israeli Reconnaissance Drone Crashes Down Over Gaza

    © AP Photo/ Ariel Schalit
    Middle East
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    For the second time this year, a small Israeli reconnaissance drone has fallen out of the sky.

    The drone, a Skylark model, was on a mission in the Gaza Strip before it crashed for unknown reasons. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are investigating the incident.

    "Earlier today, an Israel Defense Forces' Skylark Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) fell over the Gaza Strip," reads the IDF statement. "The UAV was engaged in routine security activity in the neighborhood of Shuja'iyya in the northern Gaza Strip."

    In January, a Skylark crashed in southern Lebanon, which prompted a race between the IDF, Lebanon and Hezbollah to be the first to recover the remains, a contest Hezbollah claims to have won. The IDF has not disclosed a reason for that crash, either.

    Skylarks, miniature UAVs built by Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems, are the smallest drones operated by the IDF. The drone is launched by one or two operators and provides a live video feed once airborne. 

    The IDF website describes the Skylark 2 as "only seven kilograms, the drones are small, efficient and practically unnoticeable in the air. Equipped with a live video feed, they can fly for up to three hours, at night and in all weather conditions without being detected."

    The Skylark 1 is smaller, but has a shorter flight time. Elbit Systems claims that dozens of countries utilize Skylarks, including Australia, Canada, South Korea, Poland and, of course, Israel.

    They typically fly at low altitudes, gathering intelligence. The IDF used the drones to search for three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas during the 2014 Operation Brother's Keeper.

    In August 2015, Hamas claimed to have captured and reassembled a Skylark drone of their own. The drone is allegedly now being operated by Hamas's military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

    The IDF has not revealed whether the downed drone is a Skylark 1 or a larger Skylark 2. Experimental trials for the Skylark 3, which can remain airborne longer and has a more powerful camera, will begin in April 2017.

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    Tags:
    unmanned aerial vehicle, drone, Elbit Systems, Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas, Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Palestine, Gaza Strip, Israel
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