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Israeli drones save 1000s of Palestinians in Gaza (video)

By Mason White 4:45 PM September 1, 2014
Israeli military drone 

By: Hydar Tomar
(Scroll down for video) Thanks to highly sophisticated military drones, Israel was able to save thousands of Palestinian lives during the 50-day war with Gaza, the IDF Blog reported.

Throughout Operation Protective Edge, the IDF’s “First UAV Squadron” operated non-stop in order to prevent civilian casualties in Gaza.

Two senior commanders in the unit reveal the details of how the squadron detected terror targets and minimized harm to civilians in Gaza.

“We don’t want to harm the population of Gaza, and we are doing everything to make sure it doesn’t happen,” one commander said.

The “First UAV Squadron” (or the 200 Squadron) of the Israel Air Force, operates around the clock, gathering intelligence from above.

“At any given moment throughout the year, the squadron has UAV’s up in the air,” said Maj S., the deputy commander of the Squadron.

The 200 Squadron is constantly supplying intelligence sources with aerial footage that allows them to detect and track terrorist activity.

“We gather a lot of information, which eventually gives us the ability to detect targets that need to be attacked. This is why the minute Operation Protective Edge began the air force already had a large ‘bank’ of targets,” explained Maj. R, a senior commander in the squadron.

“It’s not enough to detect targets,” explained Maj S. “Every few months, it is essential to check that the target is still relevant. If you find a weapons storage facility today, tomorrow they could take all of the weapons out of the building and build a kindergarten. If I don’t know about that change, I could make the mistake of targeting it. That’s why we don’t just find new targets, we also keep track of the existing ones.”

Maj. S. explained how new targets were detected by the 200 Squadron during Operation Protective Edge.

“A target can be many things: a warehouse, a building, a rocket launching site, a vehicle of a terrorist or a group of terrorists. Buildings and warehouses are usually the kind of targets we find before the operation. During the activity we start to detect and track other targets, such as terror operatives, senior Hamas officials and more rocket launching sites. The majority of rockets are launched within or very close to civilians. I have personally been called to situations where I saw it happening from a school, from a neighborhood, from the backyards of homes. I’ve seen it all. Nothing can surprise me.”

For Maj. S, the deputy commander of the UAV’s Squadron, preventing civilian casualties is his top priority. “I don’t have any personal problem with any civilian living in Gaza, and I don’t want to cause them any harm. We are a crucial part of the ‘Roof Knocking’ process. (After the stunt-bomb is dropped) We really look at the target before the actually bomb is dropped. We check who left the area – women, children, and adults – and make sure that nobody enters the area. According to that knowledge, we make the decision if the target can be struck or not,” he said.

“When I detect a new target, I immediately think of how to clear it of civilians – that’s my objective. It bothers me that the world doesn’t see how hard we work to minimize harm to civilians. When I say ‘we,’ I mean me personally and my staff. The majority of our work is to prevent harm to innocent people. Unfortunately, civilians do get hurt,” continued Maj S.

“Our enemies deploy inhumane fighting tactics. When that happens, we investigate these incidents and try to learn from them so that they won’t have the same outcome the next time.”

As a policy, the “First UAV Squadron” orders the abortion of airstrikes if they put civilians at risk. Maj. R. provides an example of this kind of situation:

“We had our target in reach. It was an armed terrorist with the aim of attacking us. Right before the strike, we saw him enter some kind of yard, full of children. It all happened during the strike. You know there is a bomb on its way to targeting this terrorist, and you know he is close to kids, so you immediately cease the strike. When you see the explosion on the side, we understand that we’d just prevented unnecessary harm to at least 8 children.”