An Arrow II missile interceptor is displayed in front of journalists at an Israeli air defence command in the Palmahim military base south of Tel Aviv May 12, 2011. (Reuters)

February 18, 2022

Israel’s military said its air defenses fired at a drone that had crossed into its airspace from Lebanon on Friday, the second such incident in as many days.

Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group said it had launched the drone on a reconnaissance mission over Israel in a statement released on Friday.

The Israeli military said air raid sirens were sounded, sending residents into bomb shelters, after “a radio-controlled aircraft crossed into Israeli airspace from Lebanon”.

“As a result… aerial defense systems were activated” and “after a few minutes, radar contact was lost with the aircraft,” it added, indicating that the drone was not intercepted.

The Israeli air force tweeted that “Iron Dome interceptors were launched” and fighter jets scrambled to patrol the area.

Hezbollah said it had launched its “Hassan” drone on a 40-minute, 70-kilometer (45-mile) reconnaissance mission across the border and that the drone made it back to Lebanon.

Israeli fighter jets flew low over Beirut, witnesses said.

The Israeli army announced on Thursday that it had shot down a drone it said was launched into Israeli airspace by Hezbollah.

That came a day after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah had boasted about his organization’s new drone and missile capabilities.

In a speech, Nasrallah said “it is no secret to the Israelis… that we have the capacity to transform our missiles into precision missiles”.

“In Lebanon, for a long time, we have started to manufacture drones. Whoever wants to buy them can place an order,” he said.

Neighbors Lebanon and Israel are technically in a state of war and drones have become a regular feature of their heavily guarded border.

In January, Israeli security sources claimed that drones captured after being flown across the frontier from Lebanon had provided insights into Hezbollah’s growing aerial surveillance capabilities.

In July 2006, Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers, sparking a 34-day war that killed 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

It ended with a UN-backed ceasefire that saw the Lebanese army deploy in border areas.

Asharq Al-Awsat

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Track Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.