The illegal Israeli settlement of Efrat has become the first to use drone technology to observe Palestinians in the surrounding area, according to the Jerusalem Post.
The $37,000 unmanned aerial device was paid for by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) and is the first time settlers have been given such high grade equipment to monitor Palestinians. A demonstration of the technology on Sunday showed how a small black drone could even observe Palestinians in the night with the use of thermal cameras.
The settlement council claims that the drone is needed to protect residents from Palestinian resistance attacks, after an alleged stabbing incident this year left one person with minor injuries.
“We are going to have this drone in our own yard in case we do have any other terrorists who want to come into Efrat. We will be able to raise the drone into the air, freeze the situation, get a good visual picture and direct the army and police forces to exactly where the terrorists are hiding,” Council Head Oded Revivi said.
However, it is more a regular occurrence that Palestinians are harassed and assaulted by settlers and Israeli soldiers, as well as being already disadvantaged due to the presence of the settlement.
Efrat, the fourth largest settlement built on private Palestinian land, has a road for settlers which Palestinians are only allowed to use during daylight hours. The road cuts off nearby Arab residents from their farmland.
Last week, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reported that Palestinian school children from Al-Jalazun refugee camp in the central occupied West Bank also face violence and disruption thanks to the proximity of their school to the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit El.
Israeli occupation forces “use teargas, rubber-coated metal bullets and, in some cases, live fire”, B’Tselem continued, adding that camp residents, including minors, “have been killed and injured”.
The NGO also found that Israeli settlers attacked Palestinians in the West Bank village of ‘Einabus with the assistance of Israeli soldiers last week. Two Palestinians were attacked by settlers from the notorious Yitzhar settlement as they paved a road on their farmland. Some 50 villagers then went to protect their lands, after which the settlers returned accompanied by soldiers who fired live bullets and tear gas at the Palestinians.
With the drone now ready for use in Efrat, IFCJ founder and President Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein said his organisation plans to provide similar drones to other communities in Israel, including those along the Gaza border. “The security of the citizens of the State of Israel is one of the most important areas in our remit and we are certain that this drone will help the residents and significantly increase their personal safety,” Eckstein added.