7 Oct 2012

Israeli warplanes ‘buzz Lebanon’ after shooting down drone

Israeli jets reportedly fly low over southern Lebanon in show of strength after an unmanned drone crossed into Israeli airspace.

Israeli F-16 jet (Getty)

Lebanon‘s state news agency reported that Israeli warplanes staged mock raids over the market town of Nabatiyeh and nearby villages.

The Israeli military declined to comment on the reports.

The exercise comes a day after the Israeli military shot down a drone that crossed deep into Israel from the Mediterranean Sea.

The incident marked the first time in at least six years that a hostile aircraft penetrated Israeli airspace.

It was not immediately clear who launched the drone, but the Iranian-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah is known to have sent drones into Israel on several previous occasions.

Israel Defense Forces spokesman Avital Leibovich said Israeli systems on the ground alerted the air force to the presence of the drone on Saturday morning.

She said the aircraft over the Gaza Strip but did not originate from the Palestinian territory. She added that Israel didn’t know the drone’s starting point and an investigation was under way.

Jets intercepted the unmanned aerial vehicle and brought it down in an unpopulated part of the northern Negev region.

Israel television showed pictures of Israeli troops and helicopters in the area and Leibovich said a search was under way for the debris.

Defence Minister Ehud Barak congratulated the military and said the incident was being viewed “very severely” and Israel would consider its response later.