Drones Buzz Israeli Prisons With Impunity

YERUSHALAYIM -

Israeli prisons have fallen prey to penetration by drones, a phenomenon that has been reported in the U.S. as well, the Calcalist reported.

Drone infiltrations have become a common event. In 2017, the Israel Prison Service reported 40 such cases in 20 prisons, almost every one in the country.

The concern is that the devices could be used to smuggle contraband to prisoners.

At a Knesset committee hearing, a prison official explained that detention facilities are legally prohibited from intercepting drones. “We detect and monitor the drones, and when we do, there’s nothing we can do about it. Needless to say what could happen if a drone falls into the hands of prisoners that hold a security risk,” he said.

In February, a drone carrying weapons and materials suspected as illegal substances infiltrated a prison in central Israel.

The report follows state comptroller recommendations for updating regulation of domestic drones, which have proliferated beyond government control. A dispute between the IDF and the Israel police over who bears responsibility for domestic drone activity has hampered supervision efforts.

The number of drones in the country has been estimated to reach 20,000 this year. Due to obsolete laws, only 1.4 percent of commercial drones require licensing or registering.

Benny Davidor, Head of Airworthiness at the CAA, said that the authority is considering adopting the American model of registering the majority of civilian drones online. “Anyone operating a drone weighing between 10.6 ounces and 55 pounds will be required to register it, providing us with an electronic image of the majority of the drones.”

In June, USA Today reported that the U.S. Justice Department documented more than a dozen attempts to smuggle contraband into federal prisons in the past five years. At issue were mobile phones and illegal substances.

In 2016, the BBC reported that drones had been increasingly used to smuggle drugs and other forbidden materials into jails in the U.K. The report cited data obtained through a Press Association Freedom of Information request that showed that such incident rose from zero in 2013 to two incidents in 2014 and 33 in 2015.