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Monday, October 17, 2011     FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

Hamas reports increased Israeli drone ops
as prisoner exchange nears

GAZA CITY — Hamas has reported increased Israeli unmanned aerial vehicle operations over the Gaza Strip.
  • Related Story: Israel set to release leading Hamas terror planners October 17

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    Officials said the Hamas regime has been monitoring Israeli UAVs over the Gaza Strip in mid-October. They said the Israel Air Force has deployed additional UAVs since the announcement of the prisoner exchange with Hamas on Oct. 13.

    "They could be there to increase surveillance, or it could be part of a military operation," an official said.

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    Officials said the Israeli unmanned platforms appeared to have focused on Gaza City. They said Hamas was concerned that the UAVs were trying to determine where Sgt. Gilad Shalit, abducted in 2006, was being held.

    "There is more than one UAV hovering over a small area of Gaza City," a Hamas security source said.

    The Israel Air Force has employed a range of UAV platforms in operations in the Gaza Strip. They were identified as the Hermes-450 of Elbit Systems, the Searcher-3 of Israel Aerospace Industries and the Aerostar by Aeronautics Defense Systems.

    Officials said the Israeli intelligence community has been searching for Shalit's whereabouts for more than five years. They said Israel sent numerous agents, including those disguised as journalists, relief workers and Western diplomatic staffers, to the Gaza Strip.

    During the prisoner negotiations, Israel Security Agency director Yoram Cohen sought to meet Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari. Hamas spokesman Abu Obeida said Cohen submitted two requests to meet Jabari in Cairo, but the military commander, long targeted by Israel, refused.

    Hamas, in an assertion confirmed by Western diplomats, said the Israel Air Force was also using combat UAVs over the Gaza Strip. They said these platforms were armed with light air-to-ground rockets that could strike both moving and stationary targets.

    Officials said Hamas would not release Shalit until Israel transfers Palestinians to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. They said the Islamist regime feared an Israeli undercover operation to grab Shalit once he leaves his secret lair, believed to be somewhere in southern Gaza.

    "Those holding the prisoner [Shalit] have been warned to be extremely careful because there could be a surprise [by Israel]," the security source said.

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