The Israel Defense Forces shot down an Iranian-made drone operated by Hezbollah on Tuesday afternoon after the drone entered the demilitarized zone along the border between Israel and Syria on the Golan Heights. The Israel Air Force’s aerial defense command fired a Patriot missile and destroyed the drone.
The interception of the drone took place just hours before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was scheduled to speak to the United Nations General Assembly in New York. A large part of his speech is expected to be devoted to Israeli claims concerning Iranian military involvement in Syria.
The remotely piloted vehicle, intended for intelligence gathering missions, was identified as it took off from Damascus International Airport. It then flew to the southwest toward Israel. When the Air Force’s air defense control center identified the drone entering the demilitarized zone on the Golan, the IDF decided to shoot it down. Fighter jets were scrambled to the area, but did not fire at the drone.
The drone was intercepted by a Patriot missile fired by an anti-aircraft battery located in the Galilee. The drone fell inside Syrian territory in a region controlled by the Assad regime near the city of Quneitra.
The military said that this was not the first time Hezbollah used intelligence-gathering drones against Israel, but added that this time the drone was unusually close to the Israeli border.
IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis told reporters that the military will not allow terrorist groups to penetrate or come near to Israeli territory, in the air or on the ground.
The IDF will act severely and attack against any such actions, said Manelis, adding: “We will respond to every such attempt.” Manelis refused to say whether the drone mission was related to the recent attack in Syria, saying that the IDF “does not comment of foreign reports.”
SOURCE: Amos Harel, Noa Shpigel, and Jack Khoury