Drones, especially ones with weapons attached, have traditionally been the purview of sophisticated state actors. They first really came to prominence through NATO use during the Balkan conflict, and have since been used by the US, Russia, Israel, and many others. And now Hamas says they have one, too.
The armed drone, shown in the video above released by Hamas, was purportedly launched by Gaza this morning, and they say it managed to make it all the way up north to Tel Aviv, before it was shot down by a Patriot missile battery.
Hamas claimed responsibility for the launch, according to Lebanese publication Ya Libnan, and said that the drone is part of a series of three. The one that made it to Tel Aviv is known as the "Ababil A1B," and its mission is to drop munitions.
The other "Ababil" drones are the A1A, intended for reconaissance, and the A1C, intended for "suicide missions."
Like much of Hamas' arsenal, the Ghods Ababil is not of indigenous manufacture, but rather is supplied by Iran. They've been around for a few years, and state-within-a-state Hezbollah managed to launch three over Israel during the 2006 Lebanon War. An American F-16 managed to shoot one down over Iraq in 2009, as well.
It's unclear whether or not the missiles attached to the Ababil A1B flying over Tel Aviv were capable of precision targeting, however from Hamas past practices and intentions, it seems unlikely.
Israel itself has operated its own drones for over 20 years, such as the IAI Heron and its derivative, the IAI Eitan. The Heron has also managed to win over export customers, such as Turkey, Morocco, France, and the United States.
In Israeli use, the drones are often used in a reconnaissance role in conjunction with F-16s, AH-64 attack helicopters, and ground troops to coordinate strikes.
Since 2012, however, Israel has reportedly been rumored to have begun arming its drones, much like American UAVs such as the MQ-1 Predator.