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ABCNEWS VideoSource
Middle East Drones - AP looks at Israel''s use of drones in battle against militants
12/26/2009
APTN
VSAP631519
NAME: MEA DRONES 20091226I TAPE: EF09/1205 IN_TIME: 10:55:51:12 DURATION: 00:03:43:23 SOURCES: AP TELEVISION/IDF HANDOUT DATELINE: Various - Recent/File RESTRICTIONS: SHOTLIST ++PLEASE NOTE: THE FILE IMAGES OF ISRAELI ATTACKS ON GAZA ARE NOT DIRECTLY RELATED TO THIS STORY''S SUBJECT LINE++ AP TELEVISION Palmachim Air Force Base, Israel, 22 November 2009 1. Wide of Israeli drone near hangar AP TELEVISION FILE: Palmachim Air Force Base, Israel, 8 March 2007 2. Drone taking off AP TELEVISION Palmachim Air Force Base, Israel, 22 November 2009 3. Mid of trailer 4. Pan right from drone operator, Second Lieutenant Bar, to joystick 5. Focus shift from Israeli flag on jacket to joystick AP TELEVISION FILE: Palmachim Air Force Base, Israel, 8 March 2007 6. Pull out of control room AP TELEVISION Palmachim Air Force Base, Israel, 22 November 2009 7. SOUNDBITE: (English) Second Lieutenant Bar, Last name omitted in line with Israeli military guidelines, Drone operator: ++shot from behind++ "It''s not a game at all. It''s very serious. There is... everything in the army is involved with UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles). I don''t think there is something in the ground force or the air force that goes out without a UAV that follows them." AP TELEVISION FILE: Palmachim Air Force Base, Israel, 8 March 2007 8. Israeli drone in the air circling IDF HANDOUT FILE: Gaza Strip, 27 December 2008 ++FOOTAGE IS MUTE++ 9. Footage filmed by drone of Israeli attack on building where rockets were allegedly stored AP TELEVISION FILE: Gaza City, Gaza Strip, 28 December 2008 10. Tracking shot of explosion from Israeli airstrike during Israel''s Gaza offensive 11. Scene after explosion from Israeli airstrike, fire engine, people running AUDIO alarm AP TELEVISION FILE: Gaza City, Gaza Strip, January 2009 12. Injured women, men and children fleeing scene of attack from Israeli airstrike AP TELEVISION FILE: Gaza City, Gaza Strip, January 2009 13. People running after Israeli airstrike, pan to smoke rising 14. Funeral procession for child killed in Gaza war AP TELEVISION Gaza City, Gaza Strip, 21 December 2009 15. SOUNDBITE: (English) Issam Younis, Head of the Gaza-based human rights group Mezan: "The killer is there every minute in the sky of Gaza. This has also resulted in a state of fear amongst the community, especially children who live in panic. The drones have interfered in the daily life of Palestinians." AP TELEVISION FILE: Palmachim Air Force Base, Israel, 8 March 2007 16. Tilt up from soldier to drone AP TELEVISION FILE: Gaza City, Gaza Strip, January 2009 17. Wide of Israeli airstrike on Gaza City, zoom in, AUDIO: explosion AP TELEVISION Tel Aviv, Israel, 21 December 2009 18. SOUNDBITE: (English) Shlomo Brom, former Israeli general and a security expert at the Institute for National Security Studies: "The results could have been much worse without the use of RPVs (Remotely Piloted Vehicle) that enabled the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) to acquire real-time intelligence and to be capable of making... of differentiating in many cases between the fighting forces of Hamas and the civilians." IDF HANDOUT FILE: Southern Lebanon, 14 October 2009 ++FOOTAGE IS MUTE++ 19. Footage filmed by Israeli drone that allegedly shows rockets being removed from warehouse AP TELEVISION Palmachim Air Force Base, Israel, 22 November 2009 20. Wide of pilots inspecting plane 21. Wide of military official in trailer 22. Wide of drone being moved into hangar STORYLINE Israel''s drones are an important tool in its war against Palestinian militants, military officials say, just as Palestinians see the unmanned plane as an ever-present menace. One of Israel''s most essential and controversial weapons is operated from a nondescript beige trailer topped with antennae only a short distance away from Tel Aviv - but it is a top-secret nerve centre operating Israel''s force of unmanned airplanes. One year after Israel''s devastating assault on Gaza, the Associated Press was given a rare glimpse into the arcane control room where drone operators track targets and assist ground forces, putting Israel at the forefront of this remote-controlled technology. The soldiers behind the changing face of Israel''s warfare sit removed from the battlefield, in a room that could be mistaken for a very expensive video arcade. Second Lieutenant Bar, whose last name has been omitted in line with military guidelines, is part of an elite group of Israeli soldiers in a unit that operates drones. At work, the 21-year-old plants herself in front of an array of screens, fastens a set of earphones around her head and secures her hand around a joystick. But Bar insists: "It''s not a game at all. It''s very serious." Seeking to keep its enemies in the dark, Israel says little about its drone programme. It refuses to confirm accounts from Palestinian witnesses and other observers that drones are used in deadly airstrikes, admitting only that they are used for surveillance. Second Lieutenant Bar and her colleagues station themselves in front of their computer screens and equipment 60 kilometres from the streets and sandy dunes of Gaza where the last war was mounted. The use of drones was essential to that war, which Israel dubbed Operation Cast Lead. About 1,400 Gazans were killed, more than half of them civilians including women and children - according to Palestinian and Israeli human rights researchers - in the massive Israeli aerial bombardment that opened the campaign and in the subsequent ground warfare. One group, Human Rights Watch, charged that Israeli drone pilots had fired before making sure their targets were actual threats at least six times during the Gaza war, firing missiles that killed at least 29 civilians. Israel rejected the accusations. During a mission, drone operators work in tandem with forces on the ground, warning them of obstacles in their way and pointing out enemy positions as they advance. The drone pilots watch the operation unfold on their monitors. "Everything in the army is involved with UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles)," says Second Lieutenant Bar. "I don''t think there is something in the ground force or the air force that goes out without a UAV that follows them." Israel''s was the first military to make widespread use of drones in its 1982 Lebanon invasion, according to Mark Daly, an expert on drones at Jane''s defence publications. The use of drones in conjunction with ground and air forces was seen as crucial to the Gaza conflict of 2008 because they allowed soldiers to have eyes in the air, keeping watch over nearby roofs and alleyways. Though it is assumed by outside observers that Israel''s drones have attack capability, the military will not comment on whether that is true. The accuracy of drone surveillance and intelligence-gathering abilities has been challenged in past missions. The Israeli military said a video filmed by an unmanned drone in southern Lebanon in October showed Hezbollah militants scampering to retrieve rockets from the site of an explosion. Hezbollah said what appeared to be rockets was debris from the blast. In harsher accusations, international and Palestinian human rights groups have accused and lambasted Israel for using drones in strikes that killed civilians in Gaza. Drones also interfere with daily life of Palestinians, charges Issam Younis, the head of Mezan, a Gaza-based human rights group. "The killer is there every minute in the sky of Gaza," said Younis. "This has also resulted in a state of fear amongst the community, especially children who live in panic." The planes can remain in the air for up to 40 hours - that''s their most important asset. With no tired pilot to ground, the operators rotate while the drone remains in the air. Only one drone was downed during the war, according to a lieutenant, who operates takeoffs and landings, and it was felled accidentally by Israeli helicopter fire. While recognising the high civilian casualties wrought by the war, military analyst Shlomo Brom said the contribution of unmanned planes to Israel''s achievements in Gaza were "enormous." Drones "enabled the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) to acquire real-time intelligence and to be capable of differentiating in many cases between the fighting forces of Hamas and the civilians," said Brom, a former Israeli general and a security expert at the Institute for National Security Studies. Even after the Gaza fighting, Israel continues to rely on drones for its security. Second Lieutenant Bar says she has participated in missions where drones identify Gazan rocket launchers, alerting a fighter plane to their location. Most recently, a new military plan calls for the deployment of unmanned spy drones to photograph illegal construction in West Bank settlements to enforce a 10-month construction slowdown.
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