Israeli military shoots down drone suspected to be Hezbollah's
By The Associated Press
Published: Thursday, April 25, 2013, 9:36 a.m.
JERUSALEM — Israel shot down a drone Thursday as it approached the country's northern coast, the military said. Suspicion immediately fell on the Hezbollah militant group in Lebanon.
The incident was likely to raise already heightened tensions between Israel and Hezbollah, a bitter enemy that battled Israel to a stalemate during a monthlong war in 2006.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was in northern Israel at the time of the incident, said he viewed the infiltration attempt with “utmost gravity.”
“We will continue to do everything necessary in order to protect the security of the citizens of Israel,” he said.
Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a military spokesman, said the unmanned aircraft was detected as it was flying over Lebanon and tracked as it approached Israeli airspace.
Lerner said the military waited for the aircraft to enter Israeli airspace, confirmed it was “enemy,” and an F-16 warplane shot it down.
The drone was flying at an altitude of about 6,000 feet and was downed roughly five miles off the Israeli coast near the northern city of Haifa. Lerner said Israeli naval forces were searching for the remains of the aircraft.
He declined to say who sent the drone. But other military officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to talk to the media, said they believed it was an Iranian-manufactured aircraft sent by Hezbollah. Hezbollah sent a drone into Israeli airspace last October that Israel also shot down.
Netanyahu was informed of the unfolding incident as he was flying north for a cultural event with members of the country's Druse minority. Officials said his helicopter briefly landed while the drone was intercepted before Netanyahu continued on his way.
Netanyahu repeatedly has warned that Hezbollah might try to take advantage of the instability in neighboring Syria, a key Hezbollah ally, to obtain what he calls game-changing weapons.
Israel has all but confirmed that it carried out an airstrike in Syria early this year that destroyed a shipment of sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles bound for Hezbollah.
A senior Lebanese security official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said Lebanon had no information on Thursday's incident.
Hezbollah spokesman Ibrahim Moussawi also said he had no information, adding the group would put out a statement if it had something to say on the issue.
When Israeli military shot down a Hezbollah drone on Oct. 6, it took days for Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah to confirm it in a speech. He warned at the time that it would not be the last such operation by the group. He said the sophisticated aircraft was made in Iran and assembled by Hezbollah.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Patience pays off as starting pitcher Volquez gets 1st win for Pirates
- Pirates should exploit free-swinging Brewers
- Plum native Umberger inching closer to making return for Blue Jackets
- Pens insider: Penalty killing a concern in Stanley Cup playoffs
- Panthers pulling weight for new strength coach
- Undersized rookie Gibbons is blur on ice for Penguins
- Greensburg high school roundup: Yough softball defeats Belle Vernon in 10 innings
- Penguins’ Bylsma and Blue Jackets’ Richards know each other well
- Body found on train tracks in West End
- Westmoreland County trio setting pole vault standard
- Offseason work helps Vincentian pitchers go distance this season