Lebanon's army said an Israeli drone crashed into the sea off the port of the northern coastal city of Tripoli on Saturday. A Lebanese security official told Haaretz that the army was searching the area around the city's port.
Lebanon routinely claims Israeli aircrafts enter its sovereignty and reports of Israeli flights over Lebanon are common – however, the reports are rarely confirmed by Israel.
Lebanon's army said in a statement the unmanned plane "belonging to the Israeli enemy" had crashed at 8:30 am, with local residents saying it had crashed in the sea. The IDF refused to confirm the report for Haaretz, saying they do not comment on foreign reports.
Photographs released by the Lebanese army show Hebrew inscriptions on the aircraft and indicate that it could be an Israeli-made Hermes 450 drone.
Security officials in Lebanon said they believed the drone was surveilling the Lebanese and Syrian coastline when it crashed. The officials added that it is possible Israel refrained from bombing the crash site - as it allegedly did when an Israeli drone crashed in the Lebanon Valley area two weeks ago - because of the drone's proximity to the Tripoli port.
The Lebanese government has yet to announce whether it intends to file a complaint with the UN against Israel for violating Lebanese airspace and breaking UN Security Council Resolution 1701, passed after the Second Lebanon War. The Lebanese newspaper A-Nahar noted that Israeli manned and unmanned aircraft violate Lebanese airspace on a nearly daily basis, and that complaints to the UN haven't proven effective.
At the end of June, reports by foreign media claimed that Israel allegedly downed a drone of its own in Lebanon. According to reports on news websites affiliated with Hezbollah, the drone crashed early morning of June 21 in a mountainous area near the town of Saghbein. Increased Israeli Air Force activity over the Hermon area in south eastern Lebanon was reported beforehand.
At the time, a Lebanese security source told Reuters that the cause of the blast "is still not 100 percent clear but most probably it was an Israeli air strike to destroy their drone."
Last February, Lebanese media reported that a Lebanese drone entered Israel, near Rosh Hanikra on the Mediterranean coast, and flew over the Galilee for 20 minutes before returning to Lebanon.
In recent years, Hezbollah - with Iranian help - has improved its UAVs and boasts that it has numerous drones in its service, which it says can be used for attack or collecting intelligence. In 2012, a drone entered Israeli airspace from the southwest, and was shot down north of the Negev city of Arad by fighter planes. In 2006, the Israel Air Force also shot down a Hezbollah UAV flying towards Haifa.
- Report: Drone From Lebanon Penetrated Israeli Airspace
- 'Satellite Images Show Hezbollah Airstrip'
- Reports: IAF Bombed Crashed Drone in Lebanon
Reuters contributed to this report