The TV station of Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group said Friday two drones used in an alleged attack south of Beirut were flown from Israeli gunboats off the Lebanese coast.
Al-Manar TV’s report came five days after an alleged Israeli-launched drone crashed in a Hezbollah stronghold while another exploded and crashed nearby.
The TV reported that Hezbollah handed over the drones to the Lebanese army after conducting its investigation.
Hezbollah has said its explosive experts found that one drone was laden with highly explosive materials, suggesting the aerial vehicles were designed to carry out attacks. One drone was initially thought to be a reconnaissance drone.
The target of the drone attack in Beirut was an expensive and rare industrial mixing machine used in the creation of solid fuel, and the raid set back the terror group’s plans to develop long-range precision missiles by at least a year, according to Hebrew media reports this week.
In the wake of the attack, the IDF on Thursday revealed the identities of four senior Iranian and Hezbollah officials involved what it said was a joint project to manufacture precision-guided missiles for the Lebanese terror group, in a dramatic move apparently intended as a tacit threat to the officers. The army warned that the Iranian-led project was “jeopardizing the stability of Lebanon.”
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah called the drone attack an act of aggression and vowed to retaliate and confront Israeli drones in Lebanese skies from now on. On Monday, Lebanon claimed Israeli drones also attacked a Palestinian base in the country’s east.
The Lebanese army and government officials have described the drone crash incidents and Monday’s attack as blatant acts of aggression and violations of sovereignty and following an emergency security meeting, asserted Lebanon’s right to self-defense.
The deputy leader of Iran-backed Lebanese terror group Hezbollah on Tuesday night warned that his movement would deliver a “surprise” response in the coming days to the series of alleged Israeli raids.
Israel’s military has been gearing up for a possible attack from Hezbollah, deploying extra troops to the northern border and limiting some movement along the frontier.
On Monday, an Israeli military official warned that any Israeli response would be disproportionate, and Israel sent a message to Lebanon via the US that it would not limit its response to Hezbollah but would view all of Lebanon as a legitimate target, according to reports by Israeli news outlets.
Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar has reported that senior US officials were putting pressure on Beirut to rein in Hezbollah in order to avoid an escalation in violence, and were also attempting to defuse potentially explosive tensions.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Tuesday the Lebanese government asked for Moscow to help “prevent a further escalation of tensions between Israel and Lebanon.”