Palestinian demonstrators run to take cover from tear gas canisters fired by Israeli soldiers during protest against the West Bank Jewish settlement outpost of Eviatar, at the Palestinian village of Beita, near the West Bank city of Nablus, Friday, June 25, 2021.
Foto:Majdi Mohammed AP/NTB

Drones provide safe distance between police and protestersIsraeli police drones drop tear gas at protesters

Over the past year, Israeli police have used their new G3 drones from Aero Sol to drop 51 gram containers of tear gas over protesters and insurgents.
Ole Dag Kvamme

– We have dropped hundreds of gas capsules, says police superintendent Isaac Siekierski to Dronemagasinet.

After a cautious start in 2017, the border police in Israel started gas dropping, but only last year did it took off. During the year, the police also hope to have connected artificial intelligence to take advantage of the new camera systems.

A G3 drone from the Israeli manufacturer Aero Sentinel, here without gas tanks. PHOTO: Aero Sentinel.

A G3 drone from the Israeli manufacturer Aero Sentinel, here without gas tanks. PHOTO: Aero Sentinel.

– At first we only used the gas capsules, then we got good cameras. Now we want two-part use: To map the areas and act by dropping capsules, says Siekierski.

The development department he leads is part of in the drone- and anti-drone program in the Israeli police. The department is focusing on the rapid utilization of AI – artificial intelligence.

– We want to get good information through artificial intelligence, so we can see where our people are, be able to warn if something is wrong, if something develops quickly, if something burns and so on. We gather the needs, and hope to be ready during the year. It’s not expensive, it’s just an algorithm to put on. We have to teach the system to recognize a gun or a Molotov cocktail and anything else we need, says Siekierski.

– Doubled the number of riots

In April last year, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported how Israeli police dropped gas grenades over protesters in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

An Israeli drone drops containers of gas over protesters in Gaza, near the border with Israel, in 2018. Hatem Moussa AP/NTB

At Interpol’s drone conference in Oslo in June, Isaac Siekierski spoke about how the police think about their work.

– I do not know if it is climate change or covid, but in recent decades violent riots have doubled. That is why we need new methods. The drones help save lives and de-escalate situations, Siekierski explains.

Drones provide a safe distance between police and protesters.

– Safe distance is important to save lives by avoiding skirmishes between the police and rebels, Siekierski says.

Deterrent effect

He says drones have a clear effect:

– Drones over protesters have a deterrent effect, and send a message: We are here, we can see you, we can photograph you, we can see what kind of shirt you are wearing, while we are out of reach. The most important thing is the deterrent effect, because it has a deescalating effect, says Siekierski.

From the air above the drone, it looks like this when the police in Israel test the dropping of containers with CS gas from the drone. PHOTO: ISRAELI POLICE

The development of the drone and the gas capsules has been thorough, to avoid a fatal effect, he says.

– It is important for us to prevent the use of deadly force and major destruction. Then we needed a tactical drone, which can stay in the air for 50 minutes. It must be able to provide good information without being too close, and be able to carry 3 kilos in addition to the camera, says Siekierski.

Collaboration with Aero Sol

The result is the collaboration with Israeli Aero Sol and the drone G3.

– It can carry a camera and 3 kilos of ammunition. It can land and take off with one tap and go straight to a place on the map, he explains.

The requirement is therefore a good day and night camera with an infrared camera, and at least 20 x zoom with a large aperture.

– We can also detect molotov cocktails at night, Siekierski says.

According to tests, dropping gas capsules does not give more than 10 joules per centimeter, which should not cause damage.

– The effect is today to disperse rebels. 10 joules is far less than 27 joules per centimeter, which is the limit for possible fatal outcome. If the capsule falls on someone, it will not hurt anyone. We can drop singles or all at once, says Siekierski.

Sometimes you want to be specific, and drop capsules on a roof, to a place high up or on someone hiding behind an object, or drop over several protesters.

18 gas capsules, want the double

To Dronemagasinet, Siekierski explains that the police have twelve such G3 drones delivered by Aero Sol. They weigh 4 kilos and are made of composite.

The cargo consists of a magazine with six pipes, which holds three capsules of 51 grams of CS gas in each, i.e. a total of 18 gas capsules per each. Soon they hope to increase from three to four capsules in each, so that the drone can carry a total of 24 gas capsules.

– The effect of a capsule is like two ordinary gas grenades.

– How often do you use these?

– We always have them ready for major incidents, and for planned riots.

– How many capsules dropped?

– I do not know completely, I have not counted, but we have dropped hundreds.

Chief of Police and Commander Yoram Marciano, who heads the development department in the technology and IT part of Israel’s national police, is eager to develop algorithms to make better use of the cameras.

– We are now developing analyzes of the images, so that we can detect people’s cars, pistols and so on.

– What about face recognition?

– We have the technology, but we are not allowed to use this. But we can see if anyone has a red shirt, and follow that person. Then we can talk to him if we think he’s central. It is about calming the situation.