Assessments that Iran
is behind the launch of the unmanned drone into Israel
airspace Thursday is gaining popularity among Israel's senior military and political echelons.
According to current assessments, the drone, which was downed by an IAF F-16 jet a few kilometers west of Haifa's shore line, was sent by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, in contradiction to previous assessments that Hezbollah was
behind the launch.
The Iranian forces, it is believed, are active on Lebanese soil in an attempt to assist Assad's Syrian
regime as well as Hezbollah, and according to assessments they are charged with developing Hezbollah's drone capabilities, both in terms of hardware and know-how.
Downing of drone that entered Israeli airspace in October 2012 (Photo: Reuters)
The terrorist Shiite group was quick to deny
it was behind – or even involved – in Thursday's launch, and the IDF
's spokesperson unit was also careful not to directly attribute the drone to the organization.
IAF F-16 jets which were scrambled from the Ramat David base were the ones who successfully downed the unmanned aircraft.
Navy vessels search for wreckage near Haifa (Photo: Ido Erez)
The unmanned aircraft, which was flying at an altitude of about 6,000 feet (1,800 meters), when it was downed, apparently entered Israel's airspace from the north and was heading south. A number of explosions were reportedly heard in the area.
Israel Navy vessels were then sent to search for drone's wreckage and reports of an Israeli flyover in Lebanon
followed its interception.
The IDF's Spokesperson's Unit issued a statement saying, "Today (Thursday) the (army) thwarted the penetration of an unmanned aircraft into Israeli territory. Shortly after 1 pm a drone was identified as it was flying north to south along the Lebanese coastline. The air defense system tracked it for (several) minutes while it was still in Lebanese territory, and it was under surveillance throughout its flight until the interception.
"IAF planes were scrambled, as were combat helicopters, after it was determined that the aircraft was not friendly, and certainly not (an Israeli) aircraft. The Air Force commander authorized the interception," the army said.
In response to the incident, Prime Minister Benjamin said: “I see this attempt to cross into Israeli territory as a very serious issue. We will continue to do whatever is necessary to ensure the citizens of Israel remain safe.” the PM said in a statement.
The prime minister received an update on the attempted infiltration of Israeli airspace when he was on a flight to the country’s north. The prime minister’s helicopters landed for a short time, until the drone was shot down, and then continued on its way.
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