An Israeli air strike on a drone in the Gaza Strip killed two Israeli pilots, Israel’s Defense Ministry said Sunday, as the military sought to put the strike on hold.
A video posted on YouTube showed a large explosion as a white drone circled overhead and the air force’s Mig-23 fighter jet then flew off to the east.
The video said the attack occurred in a heavily populated area, and that the air strike killed the pilot and his colleague, who were from a nearby village.
The attack was a major escalation of the Gaza war, with Israeli airstrikes on the strip killing more than 2,200 Palestinians since the start of the operation in July.
Israel has been under mounting pressure to pull back from Gaza after more than two months of fighting that left more than 1,400 Palestinians dead and more than 400 wounded.
On Sunday, Israeli warplanes also targeted a Gaza-based militant group.
Israeli media reported that three of its fighters were killed.
The IDF did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
A spokesman for the ministry, Lt.
Col. Roni Alsheikh, did not say whether the attack was related to the drone incident, but did say it was “a serious violation of international law.”
“This attack, while targeting a legitimate target, was clearly intended to cause harm to innocent civilians,” he said.
“This violation is a clear and clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international law and is a flagrant breach of international humanitarian law.
We must never allow the Gaza conflict to turn into another Somalia, or Syria, or any other Middle East war, Alsheik said.
Israel, a close ally of Egypt, has been conducting air raids on Gaza since July 8, when the Israeli military said it had destroyed a Hamas rocket launcher and an underground tunnel network.
A senior Israeli military officer told Reuters the air campaign has destroyed a network of tunnels, but the exact number of tunnels remains unknown.
Hamas says its rockets are aimed at Israeli cities.