An Israeli Air Force F-16.
An Israeli Air Force F-16. Photo by Yuval Tebol
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Nir Kafri
A flock of migrating birds over Ma'agan Michael. Photo by Nir Kafri

Tel Aviv's Saturday morning tranquility was severely rattled as two Israeli Air Force jets flew low over city skies, on their way to intercept a suspicious signal which turned out to be a flock of birds.

The objects raised suspicions due to their slow movement, similar to that of unmanned drones. After seeing the birds, the F-16 fighters promptly returned to their base.

In April, the IAF shot down an unmanned aircraft from Lebanon over the sea opposite the northern Israeli coastal city of Haifa.

Upon identified the unmanned craft, belonging most likely to Hezbollah, the Air Force launched fighter jets into the air. An F-16 jet then fired an air-to-air missile and downed the unmanned aircraft. The remains of the aircraft fell into the sea about 10 kilometers from Haifa's coastline, within Israel's territorial waters.

IDF spokesperson Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai then said that the IAF commander approved the operation "after confirming the aircraft belonged neither to us nor to friendly forces."

In October 2012, a drone that originated in Lebanon entered Israel from the direction of the Gaza Strip and lingered over Israeli towns for several minutes before being shot down above the Negev. Following the incident, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah confirmed the drone left Lebanese territory, adding in an interview with Al-Manar TV that "this isn't the first flyover, and isn't the last."

The IDF estimate that Hezbollah has more than ten drones in its possession. IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz said in March at the Herzliya Conference that Hezbollah has "a significant number of unmanned aerial vehicles, one of which has entered Israeli territory, a scenario we may encounter in the future."