India sends ‘killer’ drones to Israel ahead of Rafah assault

The drones have been built in Hyderabad since 2018 as part of a joint venture between Israeli and Indian defense firms

New Delhi has sent Hermes 900 “killer” drones to Tel Aviv to assist in the Israeli army’s ongoing military assault on Gaza, Indian news channel TV9 Hindi reported last week.

The Indian government delivered a number of Hermes 900 drones to Israel on an unspecified date to meet “Israel’s needs in the Israel-Hamas war.”

Hermes 900 drones are manufactured in the southern-central Indian city of Hyderabad. They can remain airborne for over 30 hours, putting them in the class of medium-range long-endurance (MALE) drones.

Israel’s military has used the drones extensively during its ongoing assault on Gaza for intelligence gathering and strikes on Palestinian civilians and homes.

The drones have been built in Hyderabad since 2018 in a joint venture between India’s Adani Defence and Aerospace and Israel’s Elbit Systems known as Adani–Elbit Advanced Systems India Ltd.

News of the drone delivery was confirmed by The Wire, which contacted the Israeli defense firm for comment. A spokesperson said they could “confirm that Elbit Systems collaborates with Adani, which is a supplier to our UAS [Unmanned Aerial Systems] supply chain.”

The spokesperson added that Elbit Systems “cannot comment on the details of specific contracts, including identifying suppliers and the content they provide to different customers.”

India’s delivery of the drones comes as Israel prepares to launch an offensive on Rafah in south Gaza, where at least 1.3 million displaced Palestinians are sheltering.

Israel ordered hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to evacuate from the north of Gaza and is now threatening to attack the area it told them to flee to for safety.

The Hermes 900 drones appear to be set for use in that operation, where Israel could use them to kill civilians in Rafah. Israel has so far killed almost 30,000 Palestinians – primarily children and women – and wounded 70,000 more.

The delivery of the drones signals increasing military collaboration between New Delhi and Tel Aviv. India is reportedly one of the largest purchasers of Israeli weapons, spending over $1 billion per year.

Israel used its fleet of Hermes 450 drones to attack its own settlements and military bases during the 7 October Hamas attack known as Operation Al-Aqsa Flood. Israel claims Hamas killed around 1,200 Israelis, mostly civilians, during the attack. But Israeli forces killed many of their own civilians by unleashing overwhelming firepower, including airstrikes from Apache helicopters, Merkava tanks, and Hermes drones to repel the attack and prevent Hamas fighters from taking captives back to Gaza.

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