UAE’s Gaza drone bid denied by Israel; UK launches aerial surveillance

Israel denied a request by the United Arab Emirates to bring five surveillance drones into the Gaza Strip in order to monitor vehicles transporting equipment destined for the field hospital they are establishing there.

The vehicles in question were not carrying humanitarian aid but rather specialized equipment for the hospital.

During discussions with representatives from various Israeli government agencies, including the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), and other security officials, the UAE’s representatives sought permission to deploy the drones to ensure the security of the hospital project. However, they were informed that, due to security concerns, the drones could not be allowed into the Gaza Strip, and the drones were returned to them.

A security official clarified that there was no attempt to smuggle the drones: “They made a request, and we politely declined.”

Why did Israel not allow the UAE to use surveillance drones in Gaza?

Israeli security officials were against the transfer of the drones, primarily due to the significant concern that Hamas might attempt to acquire the drones and employ them against the IDF.

Smoke rises over northern Gaza following Israeli airstrikes, after a temporary truce between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas expired, as seen from Israel’s border with Gaza in southern Israel, December 1, 2023. (credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

Hamas has been operating pairs of drones throughout the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the war, particularly in areas where the IDF is stationed. One drone is tasked with gathering information and conducting reconnaissance and surveillance, while another carries out responsive attacks, including dropping explosives.

According to IDF sources, the use of drones has significantly decreased in recent weeks following targeted attacks on Hamas’s drone storage facilities and the neutralization of other drones. It is anticipated that the use of drones may resume as the situation stabilizes in the southern Gaza Strip.


In addition, The Guardian reported that the UK Defence Ministry will conduct surveillance flights over Israel and Gaza to search for hostage locations used by Hamas. The ministry mentioned that a variety of unarmed aircraft, including Shadow R1s used for intelligence gathering, would be utilized for these reconnaissance flights. The information regarding potential captive locations will be shared with Israel. These surveillance aircraft are unarmed, have no combat role, and their sole task is to locate hostages. “The safety of British nationals is the top priority” for the ministry, it said in a statement.