Israeli forces shot down Wednesday a drone belonging to the Lebanese group Hezbollah after it crossed into Israel's airspace, the Israeli army said on Thursday. Incursions by Hezbollah drones occur every few months.
The military said that the drone was monitored by Israeli forces from the moment it entered Israeli airspace in the "the eastern part of the Blue Line," most likely referring to the Golan Heights. "We will continue to operate in order to prevent any attempt to violate Israeli sovereignty," the army said in a statement.
The incursion came at a time of increased tensions between Israel and its northern neighbor, Lebanon, and a week after Hezbollah fired 19 rockets at the Golan Heights. According to the IDF, three fell within Lebanon and 16 were crossed into Israel, aimed at open fields. Ten were intercepted by the Iron Dome. There were no casualties reported.
In response to the attack, the IDF struck sites with artillery fire in southern Lebanon.
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The IDF said Hezbollah deliberately fired at open areas in the Golan Heights. As Lebanon is amid an internal economic crisis, Hezbollah appeared to be justifying its existence by attacking Israel, the IDF said, adding that both sides were not interested in an escalation.
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said on Saturday that Israel's strikes in Lebanon following the rocket barrage were a dangerous development, the likes of which have not been seen since the last war between the two sides.
"We are willing to sustain damage now, and not allow Israel room to maneuver in Lebanon," Nasrallah said in a televised address. "Yesterday's message was clear: Despite the hardships in Lebanon, we will not hesitate to respond."
He added that Hezbollah operated according to a clear equation: "open land for open land," referring to the group's decision to aim its rockets primarily at unpopulated areas in northern Israel. "We will not allow this equation to be broken."