The Pentagon has confirmed that it has deployed unarmed MQ-9 Reaper drones to fly over Gaza in support of Israel's efforts to recover hostages held by Hamas. The drones have been operating in the region since the October 7 terrorist attack by Hamas on Israel, during which 242 people, including some US citizens, were kidnapped. The US is conducting surveillance flights over Gaza using these unmanned aerial vehicles, while also providing advice and assistance to Israel.
The MQ-9 Reaper drones are known for their long flight duration of up to 24 hours and their advanced visual sensors for targeting. Each unit costs $56.5 million. The New York Times recently reported that US drones were spotted over Gaza, marking the first time they have flown over the region. However, unnamed US military officials have clarified that the drones are not supporting Israel's ground-military operations in Gaza.
Hamas is believed to be keeping many of its hostages in a network of tunnels, which presents a challenge to recovery efforts. In response to the October attack, the US military swiftly deployed warships and troops to the Middle East and provided weapons to Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared that there will be no cease-fire in Gaza until all the hostages have been released.
The US Defense Department's involvement in the hostage recovery efforts highlights its commitment to supporting Israel's security and stability in the region. By deploying surveillance drones, the US aims to gather valuable intelligence and contribute to the safe recovery of the hostages. The deployment of these high-tech drones demonstrates the US military's capabilities in providing assistance without direct involvement in ground operations.
As the situation in Gaza continues to unfold, it remains to be seen how the deployment of drones and other forms of support will impact the ongoing recovery efforts and the broader dynamics in the region. The US will likely continue to work closely with Israel and other international partners to address the hostage situation and promote stability in the Middle East.