- An Israeli missile intercepted a drone reportedly controlled by Hezbollah
- The IDF claims that the drone came from Damascus International Airport
- The drone had not yet crossed into Israeli territory
- Israel is increasingly concerned about Hezbollah and Iran in Syria
Israel intercepted an Iranian-built unmanned aerial vehicle that penetrated into Israel skies from Syria on Tuesday, firing one Patriot anti-ballistic missile stationed in the northern region.
According to IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen, Ronen Manelis the Hezbollah-operated drone which took off from Damascus International Airport and was followed in real time by the Israel army before it crossed the demilitarized zone and was intercepted by one Patriot missile.
The Iranian-built drone was used by Hezbollah to collect intelligence, Manelis said, adding that fighter jets were also scrambled but did not fire on the drone which fell in the area of the Syrian town of Quneitra.
While the drone did not at any point cross into Israeli territory, “the IDF will not allow any infiltration or attempt to infiltrate by any Iranian elements, be it Hezbollah or Shia militia group, to the Golan Heights. We will respond to every action very clearly and we will act to prevent any future attempt,” Manelis stated.
Following the incident the army raised the threat level in its Northern Command.
- Israeli Defence Chiefs Warn Iran, Syria after Airstrike
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The border with Syria has been tense since the war erupted in 2011, and Israel has carried out over 100 strikes against Hezbollah weapons convoys in Syrian territory over the past five years. With various heavily armed radical groups battling President Bashar Assad, Syria is Israel’s most unpredictable and unstable neighbor and poses one of the largest risks for a sudden escalation.
Israeli officials have repeatedly voiced their concern about the entrenchment of Iran and its proxies such as Hezbollah entrenching themselves in Syria and the IDF has recently completed a large-scale drill in the country’s north with tens of thousands of soldiers drilling for a war with Iranian-backed Hezbollah.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman responded to the incident saying that the interception testifies to the preparedness of the IDF and the defense establishment.
"The transition from routine to emergency at a pace that we are living here is unprecedented, and I repeat that there is no more army more prepared, at a professional level like the IDF. And today's readiness, despite all the publications and all the talk, is the highest readiness that has ever been.”
According to Arieh Herzog, the former head of the Missile Defense Organization at the Ministry of Defense, the Patriot missile system was initially designed to intercept airplanes and is a very effective system and popular around the world.
“As you can see this time it is also effective against very low flying unmanned aerial vehicles,” Herzog said, adding that the Patriot 2 anti-aircraft system was “the correct system to be chosen for this mission.”
Herzog stated that he expects Hezbollah to continue using reconnaissance drones against Israel as it is “one of the more effective ways to collect intelligence,” explaining that the group uses them “from time to time and of course this is something that cannot be tolerated and therefore we had to intercept it.”
Watch the video here:
Israel: U/D Footage from area shows missile fired at Hezbollah drone, IDF warns it won't allow terror group to penetrate Israeli territory pic.twitter.com/0T3CNsXMWx— Yiddish News (@YiddishNews) September 19, 2017
Stating that stated that he expects Hezbollah to continue using reconnaissance drones against Israel as it is “one of the more effective ways to collect intelligence,” explaining that “Hezbollah over the years has stockpiled unmanned air vehicles which are designed and produced by Iran using them mainly for reconnaissance missions.”
Israel has in the past used the Patriot system against suspicious aerial vehicles, most recently in April when a Patriot intercepted another UAV which flew into Israel from Syria hours after Israel allegedly struck a Hezbollah arms depot near Damascus International Airport.
The system was also used in July 2016 when two Patriot missiles were fired at a suspicious drone that crossed into Israeli airspace from Syria. Both missed their target and the unmanned aircraft returned to Syria. In August 2014, a Patriot missile successfully shot down a drone that entered Israeli airspace from the Quneitra region Syria close to the Israeli border.
In a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post, Commander of the Aerial Defense Division Brig.-Gen. Tzvika Haimovitch, stated that UAVs are a big challenge due to their size, speed and low flying altitude. Nevertheless, Israel’s aerial defense systems “are flexible enough” to counter any threat, including UAVs.
In mid-August Israel carried out a test of its Patriot system focusing on the threats posed by UAVs and firing multiple interceptor missiles towards aerial targets over central Israel.
With the Iron Dome, the Arrow and David’s Sling, Israel’s aerial defense system provide a comprehensive protective umbrella able to counter the growing missile threats from short range rockets to longer-range ballistic missiles fired at ranges between 40 to 300 km.
This article has been adapted from its original source
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