IDF says it downed Hezbollah drone that entered Israeli airspace amid major drill

Military says air control units tracked the aircraft ‘throughout the incident’; model appears to be commercially available Chinese-made quadcopter

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

A Hezbollah drone brought down by the Israeli military after it crossed the border into Israel, on May 17, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
A Hezbollah drone brought down by the Israeli military after it crossed the border into Israel, on May 17, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israeli troops downed a drone belonging to the Hezbollah terror group on Tuesday after it entered Israeli airspace from Lebanon, the Israel Defense Forces said.

The incident occurred as the military was holding a wide-scale monthlong drill called Chariots of Fire. During the past week, the exercise focused on training for fighting on Israel’s northern front, including against Hezbollah. On Tuesday, the military will be holding one such exercise in the northern city of Haifa.

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

A picture of the drone released by the military showed a small quadcopter that appeared to be a commercially available model manufactured by Chinese company DJI.

It did not specify how it 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.

There was no immediate statement from Hezbollah or affiliated media outlets on the drone downing.

Israeli troops are seen participating in the IDF’s ‘Chariots of Fire’ drill in northern Israel, in May 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

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

In February, helicopters and fighter jets were scrambled to take down a drone launched by Hezbollah, after an Iron Dome interceptor missile failed to hit it. According to sources in the terror group, that UAV penetrated some 30 kilometers into Israel’s airspace before returning to Lebanon unscathed.

Earlier that month, Hezbollah chief Hassan 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.

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 supposed to keep in check.

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