IAF fighter jets scramble over northern Israel

Suspicion that unmanned drones penetrated Israeli airspace not confirmed; second such incident in a week

Illustrative photo of an Israeli F-15 Eagle fighter jet (Edi Israel/Flash90/File)
Illustrative photo of an Israeli F-15 Eagle fighter jet (Edi Israel/Flash90/File)

Three Israel Air Force jets were scrambled Saturday to intercept unidentified aerial objects amid suspicion these were unmanned drones that penetrated Israeli airspace.

Two of the jets were called to the northern region of the country while a third made its sortie from the Tel Nof Air Force base to the Haifa region, Channel 2 reported.

The channel’s website published a short video of the sortie.

The IDF Spokesperson’s office refused to elaborate on the incident.

Last Saturday, residents of Tel Aviv and surrounding towns witnessed loud, low-flying maneuvers by Israel Air Force jets in the morning when planes also scrambled to intercept what was initially believed to be an intrusion by enemy aircraft into Israel’s airspace.

The intruder turned out to be a flock of birds. The surprise intrusion triggered alarms in Israel’s aerial detection systems, leading the Air Force to scramble fighters to intercept.

The slow-moving, weak radar signal given off by the birds led to concern among defense officials that the object might be a small unmanned drone.

The IDF has intercepted such drones twice in the past 12 months, including in October 2012 and last April, when the IDF shot down a drone five miles off the coast of Haifa that the army said was collecting intelligence for the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.

The IDF rarely conducts training exercises on the Sabbath, so a Saturday deployment is usually thought to be a sign of some kind of imminent military action.

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