Hezbollah announced Sunday that it had sent an unmanned reconnaissance drone on sorties over northern Israel earlier in the day, saying that the plane - known as the Mirsad-1 - flew as far as Nahariya before returning safely to its base in southern Lebanon.
The Israel Defense Forces confirmed Sunday evening that a drone did indeed enter Israeli airspace, and flew over the northern city of Nahariya. The IDF said that the drone crashed into the sea when it returned to Lebanon. Reports from Lebanese fishermen of an object slamming into the sea apparently confirms the IDF's report.
"The new qualitative achievement comes as part of the natural response to Israel's violation of Lebanese air space," the militant organization said in a report on its television channel, Al-Manar.
In a statement to the Associated Press, Hezbollah said a reconnaissance drone of the Islamic Resistance, the group's military wing, carried out its first flights over "occupied northern Palestine, flying over several Zionist settlements, reaching the coastal settlement of Nahariya and returning safely to its base."
"This qualitative and new achievement by the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon comes as part of a natural response to the Zionist enemy's repeated and permanent violations of Lebanese airspace," the statement said.
Hezbollah also warned that it would continue to dispatch drones.
"Starting today, we will send our planes as we please," the group said.
Since Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000, its air force planes have frequently flown into Lebanese airspace, incidents which have been widely covered in the Arab press.
Hezbollah said it is counting the number of times Israel sends planes over Lebanon, at the end of every month conducts a final tally of the total number of incursions over Lebanon and the skies off the Lebanese coast.
Labor MK Eitan Cabel demanded that the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee hold an urgent meeting to examine how such a simple device could have successfully entered Israeli airspace, undetected by a sophisticated radar system that costs millions of dollars.