Drone from Lebanon shot down after fragile calm returns to northern border

UAV, which appears to be small commercial quadcopter, intercepted shortly after crossing into Israeli territory amid tense standoff after Thursday flare-up

Israeli soldiers near the border with Lebanon, in northern Israel, April 7, 2023. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)
Israeli soldiers near the border with Lebanon, in northern Israel, April 7, 2023. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)

A small drone that crossed the border from Lebanon into Israel was shot down by the military, the Israel Defense Forces said Friday.

The incident, which involved what appeared to be a commercially available quadcopter, underlined persisting tensions on Israel’s northern border, a day after a barrage of dozens of rockets from Lebanon threatened to send the region into a wider conflagration.

A statement from the IDF said air control units tracked the device “throughout the incident” before taking it down near the town of Zar’it.

It did not specify how the drone was brought down as it entered Israeli airspace; however, it was believed to have been done using electronic warfare means.

The incident dented a shaky calm that has prevailed along the northern border since a ferocious volley of rockets into Israel on Thursday, which was met with Israeli reprisal strikes.

While Israel blamed Beirut for allowing the rocket fire, it said it aimed retaliatory airstrikes at “terrorist infrastructures belonging to Hamas” in the southern part of Lebanon. Hamas has a strong presence in southern Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps.

A small drone downed by the Israeli military on the border with Lebanon, April 7, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

Explosions were heard by AFP journalists in Lebanon’s Tyre region.

Lebanon’s National News Network reported that the strikes killed several sheep and damaged homes, cars and a bridge.

The Lebanese army also said it had found and dismantled a multiple rocket launcher in an olive grove in the Marjayoun area near the border, still loaded with six rockets primed to fire at Israel.

According to a report in Walla Friday, some attending a Thursday night cabinet meeting to decide how to respond to the rocket fire advocated hitting Hezbollah as well, under the assumption that they would join the fight anyway.

In fact, the Iran-backed terror group has mostly remained on the sidelines, while repeatedly warning Israel not to test it.

Hezbollah deputy chief Naim Qassem said Friday “the threats and intimidation of the Zionist leaders will lead nowhere,” adding “the entire axis of resistance” was on alert.

An Israeli police officer runs to remove remains of a rocket fired from Lebanon in Shlomi, northern Israel, April 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hecht had blamed Palestinians for the rocket fire from Lebanon.

“We know for sure it’s Palestinian fire,” he told reporters. “It could be Hamas, it could be Islamic Jihad.”

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, which patrols the area along the Israeli border, urged restraint, adding: “Both sides have said they do not want a war.”

UN chief Antonio Guterres meanwhile called on “all actors to exercise maximum restraint.”

The United States recognized “Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself,” while France vowed “unwavering” support for “Israel’s security and Lebanon’s stability and sovereignty.”

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