Fears for Palestinians after Israeli Elbit Systems reveals 'terrifying' new drone to be put to use in occupied West Bank

Fears for Palestinians after Israeli Elbit Systems reveals 'terrifying' new drone to be put to use in occupied West Bank
Elbit Systems' new drone poses new risks to Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank.
3 min read
25 November, 2022
Israel already uses remote controlled weapons in the occupied West Bank [Getty/archive]

A recent video released by Israeli weapons maker Elbit Systems showing a new drone has raised concerns over high-tech automated weapons that could be used against Palestinian civilians.

Lanius is a new armoured drone that is able to map buildings and fly through small corridors and doorways, including in urban areas.

The weapons maker says it will be make it easier for users to find "points of interest for possible threats" and can carry lethal or non-lethal payloads to perform a "broad spectrum of mission profiles".

"Lanius combines a number of technologies that put it at the forefront of how drones are transforming war," says Elbit.

The drone "is a highly maneuverable and versatile drone-based loitering munition designed for short-range operation in the urban environment", according to Elbit’s website.

Dr. Samuel Perlo-Freeman from the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) says any new lethal Israeli capability is likely to mean more terror and death for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

"The fact that these drones are designed to operate in tight urban environments…could add a new dimension of terror for the civilian population, with deadly drones loitering around the buildings where they live and work, never knowing whether or when they might strike," he told The New Arab.

Perlo-Freeman said it seems that Lanius has a "person in the loop" making decisions as to when to strike targets.

"The possibility of fully autonomous weapons (lethal autonomous weapons systems) that could make the decision to attack a target without human intervention, is one of the most terrifying prospects in modern warfare."

The researcher coordinator at CAAT said that while this hasn't happened yet, military technology is advancing fast, with no international restraints on such weapons.

The New Arab approached Elbit Systems for comment, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

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Israel already uses remote-controlled weapons in the West Bank. It routinely receives criticism from rights groups and the UN for its use of advanced technologies against Palestinians.

Israeli forces began to use a drone in 2018 that can fire tear gas at protesters in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Earlier this year, Israeli forces installed a remotely controlled weapons system at a checkpoint in the West Bank city of Hebron - inhabited by many extremist Israeli settlers – which can shoot stun grenades and tear gas as well as sponge-tipped bullets.

According to a 2021 Washington Post report, Israeli forces have also started employing a facial recognition system named "Blue Wolf" against Palestinians in the occupied area.

Since the beginning of 2022, Israeli raids and settler violence have claimed the lives of at least 150 Palestinians in the West Bank, making it the deadliest year since at least 2005, according to the UN.