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Hezbollah drone shot down after crossing over northern border — IDF

Incident comes days after troops mistakenly fired at friendly drone on northern frontier; troops separately down aircraft that flew over Gaza border

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

In this image released by the military on February 17, 2022, a drone belonging to Lebanon's Hezbollah terror group is seen after being downed by troops on the border with Lebanon. (Israel Defense Forces)
In this image released by the military on February 17, 2022, a drone belonging to Lebanon's Hezbollah terror group is seen after being downed by troops on the border with Lebanon. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israeli forces on Thursday downed a drone that Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group flew over the border, the military said.

The incident occurred a day after Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said his group has been manufacturing military drones in Lebanon and has the technology to turn thousands of missiles in its possession into precision-guided munitions.

A statement from the Israel Defense Forces said air control units tracked the unmanned aircraft “throughout the incident” before shooting it down.

It did not specify how the drone was brought down as it entered Israeli airspace.

“The IDF will continue to operate in order to prevent any attempt to violate Israeli sovereignty,” the statement said.

In an image posted on Twitter by Avichay Adraee, the military’s Arabic-language spokesperson, the drone appeared to be a commercially available quadcopter manufactured by Chinese company DJI.

Without citing a source, Army Radio claimed the drone likely belonged to the terror group’s elite Radwan Unit.

A security source said last month that at least some of the drones Hezbollah apparently uses for surveillance purposes were commercially available devices.

There was no immediate statement from Hezbollah nor affiliated media outlets on the drone downing.

Separately, the IDF said Thursday evening that a drone that flew over the border with the Gaza Strip earlier that day, was downed by troops.

It was not immediately clear what type of drone it was, or how it was brought down in the second incident. The army said the aircraft fell on the Palestinian side of the fence, in the southern part of the coastal enclave.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah speaks via a video link during a ceremony to mark the second anniversary of the assassination of the head of Iran’s Quds Force, General Qassem Soleimani, in the southern Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh, Lebanon, on January 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

On Wednesday, Nasrallah claimed the Iran-backed group had begun manufacturing its own drones. “We have been producing drones in Lebanon for a long time, and whoever wants to buy them, submit an order,” he said.

Lebanon and Israel are technically in a state of war and the heavily guarded border is commonly penetrated by drones from both sides. Last month, Nasrallah claimed that Lebanon’s ability to shoot down Israeli drones had halted regular unmanned flights over the border.

On Sunday, Israeli soldiers fired at a drone on the Lebanese border, only to then realize it belonged to the military. No damage was caused to the aircraft.

At least 74 drones flown by Hezbollah crossed into Israeli territory last year, compared to 94 in 2020 and 54 the year before that, according to the Walla news site. Most of the drones were downed.

Lebanon regularly complains about Israeli surveillance drones invading its airspace, but the IDF maintains that such incursions are necessary to track the activities of the Hezbollah terror group, which the Lebanese government is meant to keep in check.

Agencies and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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