Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah reiterated the Shi'ite group's claim that it struck an Israeli unmanned aerial vehicle over southern Lebanon on Thursday, saying in a televised address that "what happened yesterday proves that we are not afraid."
The Israeli military stated that fire was opened on one of its UAVs over the city of Nabatieh, but that the aircraft had not been downed. Shortly thereafter, Hezbollah announced that it chased away the UAV from Lebanese airspace. The group's Al-Manar TV reported that the organization struck a UAV "with appropriate weapons," forcing it to leave.
Nasrallah said in his address that Hezbollah's "policy of downing UAVs is meant to clean the Lebanese airspace of Israeli UAVs. What happened yesterday is part of this policy."
In August, Narallah vowed that his group would retaliate for two drones that crashed on a Hezbollah media center in a southern suburb of Beirut that he has attributed to Israel. Nasrallah said at the time that his organization would attack Israel "in every possible place along the border."
In Friday's address, the Hezbollah leader spoke mostly about internal Lebanese affairs, saying that countrywide protests that have been gripping the Middle Eastern country for weeks are important to help protesters achieve their goals. He warned the people of Lebanon against being used as pawns in the game of external entities, that want to see Lebanon collapse into political and social chaos.
Earlier this week, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned from his post in wake of the massive protests against the political elite. He was accused by demonstrators of overseeing rampant state corruption, and said that he had "hit a dead end" in his attempts to resolve the crisis.
Hariri's resignation was interpreted by some as a blow to Hezbollah, which tried to halt his attempts to quit. Nasrallah had advised Hariri not to resign, telling him that a resignation would be caving in to protesters who wanted to topple his coalition.