Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed on Thursday an armed drone downed in Israel earlier this week was sent by Iran, arguing in a meeting with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas that Tehran bears responsibility for a series of recent attacks on Israel.
The prime minister showed Maas the remains of the drone that was downed on Tuesday after crossing from Iraqi or Syrian airspace, announcing for the first time that it was an Iranian one.
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He further stated that Tehran fully supports Islamic Jihad in Gaza and provides all of its financing, as well as giving weapons to Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Later on Thursday, Netanyahu also met with foreign ministers from the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and showed them the same drone.
Israel has reported multiple drone launches by Hamas forces over the course of the fighting, including a explosives-laden unit that was downed and “fell on the launch squad” in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, killing two militants.
In a new development, several of the drones were downed by the Iron Dome interception system, which had previously not been calibrated to handle the autonomous vehicles. The Defense Ministry announced in March that it had upgraded the system, touting a “significant upgrade” to its capabilities and bragging that it had “successfully intercepted and destroyed targets simulating existing and emerging threats, including the simultaneous interception of multiple UAVs as well as a salvo of rockets and missiles” in a test.
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Upon his arrival in Israel, Maas called for a cease-fire while simultaneously asserting Israel's right to defend itself. "The fact that we see that Hamas is again firing missiles into the south of Israel, since we have arrived here in Tel Aviv, is for us an indication of how serious the situation is that the people of Israel find themselves in," Maas said on being welcomed by Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.
Maas emphasized that Israel had "the right to defend itself against such massive attacks" and had to be in a position to defend its citizens "for as long as there are countries and governments in this region that threaten Israel with destruction." Germany would continue to "make contributions" in the future.
The foreign minister also pointed to suffering on both sides. "The casualty numbers are rising by the day. That also concerns us greatly, and for that reason we support international efforts for a ceas-efire," he said
DPA contributed to this article.