The Israeli Air Force shot down a drone approximately five nautical miles off the Haifa coast as it flew towards the Mediterranean Coast at a height of approximately 6,000 feet. No one has claimed responsibility for the attempted infiltration, but it is assumed that Hezbollah or an affiliated terrorist group tried to penetrate Israeli air space.
A gag order on the IAF interception with a missile fired from an F-16 jet was lifted approximately three hours after the drone was blown up in mid-air.
“Israel is prepared to deal with any threat posed from Syria or Lebanon in the air, land or sea,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said after the IDF announced the incident.
Last November, a drone managed to penetrate Israeli airspace and was downed only after it reached the southern Hevron Hills, approximately 15 miles northeast of Be’er Sheva.
The drone was identified over the Gaza coast. Security officials did not release additional information, and it was speculated – without any confirmation – that the drone may have been headed towards the Dimona nuclear facility but that the IDF electronically took over the drone and directed it over a relatively unpopulated area.
The infiltration also may simply have been an attempt by Hezbollah to test Israel’s ability to detect low-flying drones.
Thursday’s drone may be an attempt by Hezbollah to draw attention away from its involvement in Syria, where heavy casualties have been reported the past several days. Hezbollah’s intense fighting alongside loyalists to Syrian President Bashar Assad further endangers the spread of the civil war into Lebanon, dominated by pro-Assad and Hezbollah parties against fiercely anti-Syria parties.
Hezbollah is largely financed by Iran, and Ahmadinejad, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and Syrian President Bashar Assad desperately need each other. Once one of the links in the “evil of axis” falls, all of the regimes’ leaders will be in danger.