Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah announced last week that his group is responsible for the recently launched drone into Israel that was shot down. Speaking on the Hezbollah-run al-Manar TV station, Nasrallah revealed that the drone was made in Iran but assembled in Lebanon. He also said it flew over “sensitive” Israeli sites, and that similar operations would continue.
The Israeli Defense Forces downed the drone over the Negev desert approximately 20 minutes after it entered Israeli airspace. Israel started tracking the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over the Mediterranean Sea, but did not attempt to bring it down over populated areas. Israeli officials released a video showing a fighter jet destroying the slow moving plane. The drone was unarmed.
A still image taken from IDF video footage showing Israeli aircraft destroying the drone in a mid-air interception. (Photo: IDF via Reuters TV)
Military officials are studying the pieces of the UAV to understand its capabilities. This is the first time an aircraft of such a hostile nature has entered Israeli airspace since the 2006 Second Lebanon War. “We view the attempt to violate Israel’s airspace very gravely and we will consider our reaction,” said Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
As a precaution, U.S.-made Patriot missile batteries were placed in the north city of Haifa, allowing the Israelis to bring down any similar incoming aircraft. Israeli warplanes also flew into Lebanese airspace, breaking the sound barrier and creating a sonic boom in an apparent response to the incident.
Last month, Hezbollah’s benefactor Iran announced it successfully produced a new long-distance missile-carrying drone with a range of 1,250 miles. At this point, Israel must assume that any technology in Iran’s arsenal is also within Hezbollah’s capabilities.