US Drones Are Assisting in Search and Rescue in Gaza

( – Right now, at least 242 Israeli and foreign citizens are being held hostage in the Gaza Strip by Hamas terrorists. Israel is trying to find and rescue them, while also carrying out strikes against Hamas targets and pushing ahead with ground operations to uproot and destroy the Iran-backed organization. While the US isn’t getting involved in Israel’s war, we are helping to find the hostages and bring them home.

On November 2, the New York Times reported that the Defense Department confirmed US drones are helping look for hostages in Gaza. The aircraft, MQ-9 Reapers, are operated by “special operations forces” — most likely Special Operations Command Central, which is headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base near Tampa, Florida, and has a forward detachment in Qatar.

The drones are probably flying out of Qatar’s Al Udeid airbase; although a Qatari base, this also has a section operated by the USAF 379th Air Expeditionary Wing and the RAF No. 83 Expeditionary Air Group.

According to the Pentagon, the Reapers aren’t supporting Israeli ground operations; instead, they’re searching for hostages, monitoring identified hostage locations, and passing information to Israel. At least six aircraft seem to be involved in the operation.

Although the Reaper — the larger successor to the MQ-1 Predator — can carry both Hellfire missiles and guided bombs, the ones flying over Gaza are apparently unarmed. They’re using onboard sensors, which include high-resolution TV, thermal imagers, and ground-scanning radar. Able to stay in the air for 30 hours at a time, and see in the dark with both image-intensifying and thermal systems, Reapers allow huge areas to be kept under close surveillance around the clock.

Amelia Smith, an aviation researcher who has been monitoring the Reaper flights on Flightradar24, says they’re focusing their operations on southern Gaza. That could suggest Hamas has moved their hostages away from the northern part of the region, where Israeli airstrikes have been concentrated. Israeli ground forces are also moving into the north, with Gaza City already surrounded and the terrorists inside it trapped. If hostages are being moved, that greatly increases the chance of them being seen by the Reapers — and then rescued by Israel.

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