IDF says drone ‘fell’ over Lebanon; Hezbollah claims it shot it down

Military does not elaborate on how aircraft crashed near southern Lebanon town of Zibqin, says no fear of intelligence leaking

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

An Israeli drone that the Hezbollah terror group claims it downed over southern Lebanon, on June 26, 2023. (Central Media)
An Israeli drone that the Hezbollah terror group claims it downed over southern Lebanon, on June 26, 2023. (Central Media)

An Israeli military drone crashed in southern Lebanon on Monday, the Israel Defense Forces said.

The Hezbollah terror group claimed to have shot down the aircraft. A video published by Hezbollah later on Monday showed the aircraft flying overhead, then slowly descending.

“The Islamic Resistance shot down, with appropriate weapons, an Israeli drone… near the town of Zibqin in south Lebanon,” Hezbollah said in a statement, adding that the aircraft had penetrated some seven kilometers of Lebanese airspace.

The IDF said the drone “fell” in Lebanon during routine surveillance activity, without elaborating on how it crashed.

The IDF said there was no risk of intelligence being taken from the drone.

Images published by Hezbollah showed the drone sustained minor damage, possibly by light arms fire or as a result of the crash.

Hezbollah is also believed to possess drone-jamming equipment, which may have been used Monday.

The drone appeared to be an ARC 1000 model, built by the Israeli company Colugo. The company’s drones are used by the military, police, and some medical services.

Lebanon and Israel are technically in a state of war and the heavily guarded border is commonly penetrated by drones from both sides.

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

The incident comes amid recent tensions on the Israel-Lebanon border, after Hezbollah set up two armed posts in sovereign Israeli territory and several clashes between Israeli troops and Lebanese rioters.

Lebanese soldiers, stone-throwing demonstrators and journalists duck down after Israeli troops fired tear gas near the Lebanese border on Friday, June 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Mohammad Zaatari)

Israel and Lebanon do not have a formal border due to territorial disputes; however, they largely abide by the United Nations-recognized Blue Line between the two countries.

The Blue Line is marked with blue barrels along the border and is dozens of meters from the Israeli fence in some areas, which is built entirely within Israeli territory.

The two tents, manned by armed Hezbollah members, were established more than two weeks ago over the internationally recognized Blue Line in the contested Mount Dov region, also known as the Shebaa Farms — an area claimed by Israel, Lebanon and Syria.

Israel says it aims to deal with the tents through diplomatic means and have a UN peacekeeping force remove the tents, but threatened that the IDF may use force eventually.

The Hezbollah terror group has long been the IDF’s most significant adversary on Israel’s borders, with an estimated arsenal of nearly 150,000 rockets and missiles that can reach anywhere in Israel.

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