Many CCWs used by the police within Israel have previously been deployed by the military against the Palestinian population in the Occupied Territories. This was the case with sponge bullets and skunk water, and so it was with the use of tear gas fired from drones. The police “imported” this weapon in 2022 for use inside Israel after it had been used in the Occupied Territories since 2018.
The first widespread use of this weapon was made in 2018 during the weekly Gaza border protests. Along with the use of live ammunition – killing about 200 Palestinian protesters and injuring thousands – there was also widespread use of drones that fired tear gas canisters at protesters with no distinction between peaceful protesters, including children and older people, and violent ones.
One foreign correspondent reported seeing a drone dropping tear gas about 500 metres beyond the Gaza border, above a communal tent occupied by women and children who were not engaged in protest. The UN Commission of Inquiry into the 2018 protests in Gaza found that a drone had dropped tear gas onto a field hospital that was clearly marked with medical insignia.
Following its use against protesters in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the Israeli police used drone-deployed tear gas for the first time against Israeli citizens in 2022. In January 2022, thousands gathered in the Negev region in southern Israel to protest the dispossession of Palestinian Bedouin citizens of Israel. The Israeli police dispersed this demonstration brutally with sponge bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas launched from drones. In April and May 2022, the police used this weapon against Palestinian worshipers in the El-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem in response to riots inside the mountain compound. The photos showed crowds of worshipers, including women, children, and the elderly, fleeing in all directions while multiple tear gas capsules were falling onto them from a drone.
The tear gas-carrying drone includes a camera and can carry multiple capsules and fire them all together or individually. Israeli security forces purchase the system from two Israeli companies: the gas capsules from ISPRA by E. I LTD and the system that fires the capsules from SPECRYS LTD.
This is a new weapon whose risks are still unclear. It is clear, however, that this is a weapon that is inherently inaccurate, and it is doubtful whether it can be used proportionately. Another concern is that the capsules may fall directly onto protesters’ heads or into their eyes. Especially when several capsules are used at the same time, the chance of harming peaceful protesters is very high. Finally, the aerial deployment of tear gas risks sowing confusion and chaos among crowds rather than fostering an