WASHINGTON — Now that the military wing of Hamas has shown that it can fly armed drones into Israel, does it herald the dawn of a new era of warfare, as some analysts assert? Or is the drone capability mainly useful as a propaganda tool for Hamas to show Palestinians it can penetrate Israeli air defenses, as others say?
Opinion is divided, but current and former Pentagon officials tend to come down on the side of caution. Though terrorists for many years have plotted to attach weapons to, say, model airplanes, the Hamas drones should be taken seriously, even if they are currently fairly unsophisticated and militarily ineffective, say current and former Pentagon officials.
“The word itself has become a media sensation – just saying you have a drone has propaganda value” both for the Hamas audience and for instilling fear in the Israeli public, says Sam Brannen, who until last year served asthe Pentagon’s special assistant to the principal deputy undersecretary for policy.
Only a handful of nations currently operate drones as sophisticated as the Predators and Reapers that the US military uses in Afghanistan and in its clandestine operations in Pakistan and Yemen.