Comptroller Assails IDF Unreadiness for Drone Threat

YERUSHALAYIM -
Elbit System’s Hermes 900 MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) drone. (Tsahi Ben-Ami/Flash90)

Innumerable reassurances issued by senior IDF officials that they are prepared for any and all security threats do not stand inspection, at least as far drones are concerned, the State Comptroller said on Wednesday.

In a report examining the military’s preparedness, State Comptroller Joseph Shapira said that the IDF “has not developed a complete response” and “needs to immediately carry out more preparatory work” to address the problem.

Besides the threat of cross-border drone operations run by Hamas or Hezbollah, Shapira focused attention on the growing chaos in domestic drone activity.

The authorities have lagged behind in formulating regulations and enforcement, the report said. Current aviation laws stemming from a 2011 law have been outstripped by a rapidly changing reality. It noted a 70 percent jump in dangerous accidents caused by drones from 14 in 2015 to 24 in 2016.

Shapira urged an updated law and bolstering of staff. Currently, the Civil Aviation Authority employs only two people to oversight of drones and neither is working on it full time.

Once again, as in many past reports, the Comptroller faulted the government for lack of coordination. The National Security Council, the IDF and the police force have failed to work out clear lines of responsibility for foreign and domestic drone threats, after 2.5 years of work on the issue.

While the relevant agencies are in agreement that the IDF is responsible for cross-border drone terror, the question of who is in charge of domestic drones remains up in the air. The IDF says the police are responsible for the domestic threat, whereas the police say they are not equipped for it and that the army IDF must handle all drone-related issues.

Shapira said that “the security cabinet must review this report and act without delay to fix the deficiencies noted in it.”