GAZA CITY ø The Israel Air Force successfully
tested an unmanned aerial vehicle platform capable of firing missiles or
anti-tank munitions at ground targets.
Palestinian sources said the unidentified UAV has been used during the
current "Days of Pentinence" military operation in the northern Gaza Strip targeting Hamas operatiaves and others involved in the recent rash of Kassam rocket attacks.
So far, the sources said, the UAV was responsible for the death of 40
Palestinians over the last week. They said the UAV was used to locate and
target Palestinian combatants in the Jabalya refugee camp, the focus of
Kassam-class short-range missile production.
The sources said the UAV was capable of targeting and destroying moving
On Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority-owned Al Hayat Al Jadida published
a photograph of the Israeli UAV, dubbed Zanana. The Arabic word was a
reference to the buzzing made by the approaching UAV.
About 80 Palestinians have been killed in the military operation, which
entered its eight day on Wednesday. An Israeli military statement said that
on Tuesday Bashir Dabash, head of Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, was
killed by a missile fired from an Israeli aircraft.
The military said more than 50 of the Palestinian casualties in the
current operation were Hamas combatants. The United Nations said the
casualties included 24 Palestinians up until the age of 14.
The military has not reported the use of a combat UAV in the Gaza Strip.
Still, Israeli defense sources have acknowledged that the air force and key
contractors have been developing combat UAVs. The sources said the program
has included both the development of new platforms as well as the conversion
of existing UAVs into those that could deploy munitions.
The Israeli sources did not provide specifics. But they said that the
Searcher UAV, regarded as the most active military UAV in the Gaza Strip,
was too small to carry or fire munitions.
The U.S. Army, however, has modified the Israeli-origin Hunter UAV to
enable the deployment of Brilliant Anti-Tank munitions. The Hunter, the
leading army UAV in Iraq, succeeded in BAT tests in 2002.
In 2003, Israel Air Force officers said the service was not conducting
similar tests on the Hunter. They said the Hunter was not regarded as a
platform for strike operations.
Al Hayat Al Jadida said the Zanana UAV was used to kill Hamas senior
operative Wa'el Nassar in August 2004 near Gaza City. The newspaper said the
was capable of firing a missile.
Palestinian sources said the Israeli combat UAV was used to target and
attack insurgents in the northern West Bank city of Jenin in July. The
sources said the UAV fired what appeared to be a small rocket, but failed to
kill the Palestinian insurgents.