The Israeli Air Force shot down an unidentified aerial
vehicle that penetrated Israel's airspace on Saturday. IDF forces shot
down the drone over the Negev, south of Mount Hebron.
said Saturday that the drone arrived in Israel from the west after
flying over the Mediterranean and the Gaza Strip. It said the incident
is under investigation.
After the drone traveled east some 35
miles (56 km) across Israel's southern Negev desert, the drone was shot
down above a forest in an unpopulated area near the border with the West
Bank, the IDF spokesperson said.
IDF Spokesperson Yoav Mordechai said Saturday that the IAF tracked the
drone "throughout the course of its flight," maintaining contact with
both aerial and ground forces. Fighter jets from the Ramon air force
base were dispatched, he said, and after receiving approval they downed
the drone over Yatir forest, located in the north-eastern part of the
"It was decided to down the drone over an unpopulated area," Mordechai
said, adding that the IDF views the incident as a successful operation.
"The aircraft was identified before entering Israeli airspace and was
under constant tracking."
Military forces were sent to recover the
drone's wreckage for further examination. The IDF also said that IDF
Chief of Staff Benny Gantz was briefed on the initial findings.
The IDF admitted that the drone flew over Israeli territory for long
minutes, but Mordechai insisted it was "much less than half an hour."
This is the fourth time in the past decade such an incident has
occured. In the past, small drones penetrated Israel’s airspace from the
north. Hamas reportedly showed interest in unmanned aerial vehicles,
but it was never confirmed by Israel’s defense industry. However,
sources within the security establishment had confirmed in the past that
Hezbollah is involved, both financially and logistically, in supporting
terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.
The IDF said
Saturday that it plans on examining the drone’s flight course in attempt
to establish its origin. It will also investigate what the drone’s
objective was: reconnaissance and intelligence gathering (that also may
be used for propaganda) or to target Israeli towns or IDF compounds.
During the 2006 Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah launched Iranian Ababil drones, capable of carrying explosives. The drones were intercepted and downed by IAF fighter jets.
Another drone penetrated Israeli airspace from Lebanon in 2004, however
was not identified by the IDF. The drone flew over Israel for several
minutes, then left Israel's airspace and crashed in the Mediterranean
while on route to Lebanon. Following the incident the IAF was criticized
for not identifying the drone before it entered Israel.
In 2010, Israeli Air Force shot down an apparently unmanned balloon that flew over the Dimona nuclear reactor.
Iranian media in past years reported that the country is developing a
new combat drone named Karar, saying it will have bombing capabilities.
According to reports, Iran claims that the Karar's range could reach
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