Israel shot down an unmanned Hezbollah aircraft that was approaching its Mediterranean coast, the second drone launched by the militant Lebanese group in less than a year.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that he views the attempt to breach Israel’s borders “with the utmost gravity” and “will do whatever it takes” to insure the nation’s safety. Netanyahu was flying by helicopter to an appearance in northern Israel at the time the drone was detected and briefly landed during the interception.
The unmanned plane was intercepted over the sea five nautical miles from the port city of Haifa, the army said in a statement. Assistant Defense Minister Danny Danon told Army Radio the aircraft was launched by Hezbollah, which is considered a terrorist organization by Israel and the U.S.
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah took responsibility for a drone that was shot down in October over southern Israel, saying the Iranian-made aircraft had flown over “sensitive and important” locations.
Netanyahu expressed concern earlier in the day about instability in Lebanon and Syria that could threaten Israel. He said Israel’s armed forces are prepared for “any threat that comes from Lebanon and Syria, from the sea, air or land,” according to a text message from his office in Jerusalem.
U.S. officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, said this week they haven’t seen conclusive evidence supporting an assertion by Israel’s top military intelligence analyst that Syrian government forces have used chemical weapons against rebels.
President Barack Obama said when he visited Israel last month that proof Syria had used chemical weapons would change U.S. calculations in dealing with the conflict, without specifying what actions he would take.
Israel and Hezbollah fought a month-long war in 2006.
To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Ferziger in Jerusalem at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at email@example.com