Patriot missile launched at Syrian drone that flies 10 km into Israel
Rocket alert siren sounded across several communities in the Golan Heights after Patriot missile is launched to intercept drone that crosses from Syria and infiltrates Israel; IDF: 'We followed it and waited for the optimal conditions to intercept it.'
A Patriot missile was fired at a Syrian drone that infiltrated 10 kilometers into Israel on Wednesday afternoon, prompting a rocket-alert siren to go off in several communities in the Golan Heights. The IDF intercepted the drone over the Kinneret.
It was not immediately clear who launched the drone and there were no reports of injuries or damage.
The military said the missile intercepted the aircraft and warned that it "will not allow any violation of Israeli airspace and will act against any attempt to hurt its civilians."
The siren was sounded around 3:30pm in Haspin, Givat Yoav, Ramat Magshimim, Kfar Haruv and Mevo Hama, among others.
The IDF said that they tailed the drone for 15 minutes after it entered Israel from Syria. Hoping not sour a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Wednesday, the army added that checks were simultaneously carried to ensure that the drone was not linked to Russia.
The IDF later confirmed that the drone managed to infiltrate 10 kilometers into Israeli airspace before the Patriot missile fired from near shot Safed it out of the sky.
IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis said that the drone was spotted before it entered the demilitarized buffer zone between the two countries.
“We spotted an unmanned aerial vehicle at around 3:20pm flying toward the buffer zone and we followed it. It was spotted before it crossed into the demilitarized zone,” he said.
“We carried out a number of activities to prevent friction and defense activities including calling four war planes and two combat helicopters and we prepared Patriot missile batteries. When we realized that there were optimal conditions, we intercepted the drone using one Patriot missile,” he continued.
The IDF also issued a statement shortly after the incident.
“We carried out a number of checks before the interception and the missile was fired only when the conditional were optimal for it. The aircraft carried out a mission in the Golan Heights, including among our neighbors before it entered Israeli territory. We wanted to know which country it belonged to,” the statement read.
“It is reasonable to assume that it was not an operational act against Israel. It could have been intercepted at any time. We also followed it when it crossed Jordan,” the statement said, adding that the incident had been coordinated with Russia.
Tension on Israel's northern border has increased over the past few weeks in the wake of Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces reclaiming the Daraa province as well as targeting the Syrian Golan Heights.
Emek HaYarden's residents reported hearing explosions and smoke trails ripping the sky following the siren. Shortly after, Emek HaYarden Regional Council said routine in the area had resumed.
The IDF said it would not allow any violation of Israel's airspace and will retaliate against any attempt to harm its citizens.
Israeli police issued a rare request for boats in the Sea of Galilee to sail back to shore "due to security operations taking place in the area."
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned Tuesday the pro-Iranian Shi'ite militias in the Syrian Golan Heights not to try to establish a terror network on the border with Israel.
"We are identifying elements affiliated with the (Iranian-Shi'ite) axis trying to establish terror infrastructure in the Golan under the auspices of the Syrian regime. This is unacceptable, and we'll act against any terror infrastructure we identify here," Lieberman said during a tour of the Golan Heights border.
"We consider the (Syrian) regime responsible, and it will pay the price for cooperating with the axis organizations."
On Sunday evening, the IDF reportedly attacked the T-4 military airfield in Syria's Homs province, activating Syrian air defenses, according to the Syrian news agency SANA.
At the end of last month, the IDF launched a Patriot missile in the northern Golan Heights at an incoming drone from Syria.
According to the IDF, the unmanned aerial vehicle retreated unscathed following the launching of the missile, returning to an area controlled by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces.
Associated Press contributed to this report.