Israel busts Gaza drone shipment
An Israeli soldier launches a drone outside the Gaza Strip Amir Cohen/Reuters file photo

Israeli intelligence has thwarted an attempt to smuggle in multicopter drones for "terrorist elements" in Gaza as they seized a shipment of toys. Shin Bet operatives intercepted the truck, said the defence ministry.

The operation was jointly carried out by Shin Bet and the Transfer Authority, which monitors the transfer of aid supplies and other goods into Gaza. The ministry said upon inspection of a vehicle at the Kerem Shalom frontier, commercial drones in a range of sizes and styles were found inside the truck. The unmanned aerial vehicles, which can be operated remotely, were equipped with high-quality cameras.

Israeli officials said the shipment was meant for "terrorists' use" to keep track of the movements of Israel Defence Forces (IDF). Shin Bet said there have been several attempts in the recent past to smuggle drones into Gaza to help extremist groups in the region.

A special investigation has also been launched to trace the exact source of the consignment. The IDF believes Hamas uses UAVs to collect information about the activities of Israeli forces. Israel has imposed a blockade – which includes sea, air and land restrictions – on the Gaza Strip for several years now arguing that it is necessary to stop rocket attacks emerging from the region.