Drone launched from Gaza Strip by Hamas shot down, Israel claims

Reported by: Elizabeth Hagedorn/NEWSY

Israel says it’s downed a drone launched by Hamas — a first for the military since the crisis began last week. (Via Getty Images

Monday morning, Hamas’ armed wing claimed responsibility. (Via Middle East Monitor

The IDF says the drone was flying over Ashdod — a city located about halfway between the Gaza Strip and Tel Aviv. (Via Google

The Times of Israel quotes military sources who say the unmanned aircraft probably could only carry a small explosives payload but enough to cause damage.

Hamas militants with armed drones, if confirmed, could mark a turning point in the fighting. Until now, the hundreds of cheaply-made rockets launched by the group have resulted in zero Israeli casualties.

Contrast that with the 172 Palestinians — including 30 children — the Gaza Health Ministry says have died from Israeli strikes. According to the U.N., nearly 80 percent of the victims were civilians. (Via Israel Defense Forces

Monday marks the seventh day of the Israeli offensive. Thousands of Palestinians are fleeing their homes in Gaza — following an evacuation warning from Israel. (Via Press TV

Israeli forces dropped these leaflets warning residents to move away from Hamas sites ahead of its bombardment of the area. (Via Twitter / @ofirgendelman

Israel says it has no choice but to target residential areas — accusing Hamas of hiding its members and weapons near or in civilian homes.  

PETER LERNER, IDF SPOKESPERSON: “The IDF uses weapons to safeguard its civilians. Hamas uses its civilians to safeguard its weapons. It's a grave situation. We are operating in a professional way.” (Via CNN

Despite Israel’s stepped up offensive, Hamas has continued with its relentless rocket fire — most of which has been intercepted by Israel’s sophisticated Iron Dome missile defense system. (Via RT

The United Nations says some 17,000 people have taken refuge in emergency shelters throughout the Gaza Strip.

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