A small black drone that looks like a flying spider and sounds like a very loud mosquito could become the latest weapon to help civilian security teams prevent terrorist attacks.
On Sunday, the drone, which has thermal cameras for night use, hovered above the Efrat settlement as part of a demonstration showing how it could quickly identify a terrorist on the ground.
Efrat is the first Israeli community to provide its civilian security team with drone technology, according to the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, which donated $37,000 for the drone.
Efrat Council head Oded Revivi showed IFCJ founder and president Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein how the drone’s data can be easily seen on a screen.
Until now, the security team had to look around in the dark to find any possible terrorists in situations where “time is of the essence,” Revivi explained.
With better and faster information provided by the drone, the team has a better chance of finding infiltrators in advance of the army’s arrival, he said.
Revivi pushed for the drone’s acquisition after a Palestinian terrorist infiltrated Efrat on December 23, 2016, and stabbed one of the residents, moderately wounding him. The terrorist was never caught.
“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,” Revivi said, then noted the security challenges presented by Efrat’s topography.
“Efrat is a very unique [community]. From one end to another it is five-and-a-half miles long, 9 km. At the narrowest, it is only a traffic circle.”
In the past, Efrat has preferred to rely on technology rather than a barrier.
“It is not surrounded by a fence. Throughout the years we have been safe,” Revivi said, adding the community had been relying on cameras and radar, but that terrorist attack made it feel more vulnerable.
“Thank God for the fellowship fund,” he said.
One security expert, who declined to be named, said communities in Judea and Samaria, as well as those along Israel’s border, need more than a gadget to protect them.
Drone technology is still in infancy, the expert said. Making use of it on the West Bank is particularly complicated, particularly if the drone accidentally falls into a Palestinian village. The expert added that once Israelis introduce drones into the West Bank, the Palestinians will likely follow suit.
Eckstein said his organization plans to provide similar drones to other communities in Israel.
“With the drone now ready for use in Efrat, we are committed to providing a similar drone to all the communities who turn to us with a need to improve local security,” he said.
The next drones are expected to go the Eshkol Regional Council and the city of Sderot, both of which border Gaza.
“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.