In the past week, tensions along Israel's border with Gaza have ratcheted up, with rockets from the Strip landing in Israeli territory and response strikes targeting Hamas' terrorist infrastructure. But in times of peace or turmoil, the IDF always has a watchful eye on the area. Yediot Achronot's Yoav Zitun reports on the all-female Skylark drone unit that monitors goings-on on the other side of the Israel-Gaza border:
While the Gaza border area has experienced relative calm since Operation Protective Edge ended two years ago, the Southern Command, the Shin Bet, and Military Intelligence are still working around-the-clock to prepare for the next war against Hamas. These efforts mostly focus on gathering intelligence and growing the IDF's "target list," along with work to thwart border-crossing terror tunnels.
A team of female fighters, likely the first of its kind operating on the Gaza front, takes part in these operations on the border. While the team of female combat soldiers are responsible for gathering intelligence mostly in the northern Gaza area, another team of male soldiers are doing the same in southern part of the strip...
"Last weekend, we had a series of identifications and we collected new coordinates," said Capt. Toval Tzadok, the commander of the combat intelligence collection company in the Gaza Division.
"We provide a lot of visual information which becomes part of the intelligence puzzle," said one of the female fighters in the unit.
"A lot of the time, our drones are launched when an IDF lookout identifies a vehicle of a senior Hamas official that makes it all the way to the border fence. We're then called in and within minutes have the drone in the air. We follow him for hours, sometimes all the way to the shore or to the north (of the strip). There are also scheduled assignments, like when we have intelligence suggesting something is about to happen on the other side of the border."