Report Highlights Dangers of 20,000 Drones in Israeli Skies

A drone with a camera attached for taking photographs from the air. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

There are some 20,000 drones in use in Israel, by individuals, businesses and government — and according to a state comptroller’s report issued Wednesday, no one is regulating their operation. Although the vast majority of drones can fly no more than two kilometers, they still constitute a threat to personal safety, air traffic and national security.

In the latter category are drones that could be sent over the border by enemies of Israel, carrying explosives that could be targeted to blow up at a specific location. Beyond that, the report said, drones carrying payloads — like explosives — could be sent to specific individuals for use by terrorists seeking to carry out attacks anywhere in the country.

Currently, drones are not licensed in Israel, and there are no specific regulations for their use. Owners of drones could, technically, add cameras to their craft and take photos of private property. Drones also pose a danger when flying over urban areas, as they could easily hit tall buildings, antennae, water towers, birds, or even other drones.

That no major security or safety incident has yet developed is due more to nissim than regulations, the report said, listing numerous near-misses in which drones entered the paths of airplanes. The most serious incident took place in August 2015, when a drone got very close to a plane that was landing at Ben Gurion Airport. There were 14 near misses in 2014 and 24 in 2015, the report said.

Attempts by MKs or officials to develop regulations have been met with rejection by the various government bodies that refuse to take responsibility for the matter, the report added. That situation must change and the government needs to take up the matter immediately, it added.