Israel Took 30 Minutes to Discover Hezbollah Drone, Lebanese Newspaper Says

Hezbollah-linked Al-Akhbar newspaper boasts that a drone that crossed over and triggered Israel's air defense systems returned unscathed despite three attempts to shoot it down

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Women take a selfie in front of replica drones at a war museum operated by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, last week.
Women take a selfie in front of replica drones at a war museum operated by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, last week. Credit: Mohammed Zaatari /AP
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

A Hezbollah drone that penetrated Israeli airspace last week eluded Israeli early-detection systems as it photographed several locations in the country's north before returning to Lebanon allegedly untouched, a Lebanese newspaper with close ties to Hezbollah reported Monday.

The report in Al-Akhbar referred to an incident last Friday when the Israel Defense Forces were taken by surprise by what it called a “radio-controlled aircraft” entering Israel from Lebanon, setting off sirens in the north. In an apparent warning to Hezbollah, Israeli warplanes later flew at low altitude over Beirut.

Accompanied by a map showing the route of the drone, the report said the unmanned aerial vehicle had been launched at 11:40 A.M. from a site in southern Lebanon. Israeli detection systems and radar failed to see the UAV for the first half hour as it penetrated as far as 30 kilometers into Israeli airspace.

According to the Al-Akhbar report, both an Iron Dome missile fired at the drone and an F-16 fighter jet dispatched to bring it down failed to intercept it. Israel ultimately sent Apache helicopters to bring down the drone. After they fired rockets at it over the Sea of Galilee, the UAV disappeared from the radar's view, leaving the army to believe it had been brought down. A search team dispatched to retrieve the drone's remains came back empty-handed.

Al-Akhbar said the drone returned home safely after about 40 minutes and flew a route of about 70 kilometers into Israel.

The newspaper quoted a Hezbollah official as saying the organization had developed ways for drones to evade Israel's highly advanced warning systems stationed at several locations, including Mt. Hermon. He said the operation had destroyed the myth that Israel enjoyed absolute superiority in the air.

Asserting that Israel’s early-warning system has come under pressure from a single small UAV, the official said “what would happen if there were scores of UAVs and what would happen if they were armed, not just equipped with cameras?”

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