Israel Downs Suspected Hezbollah Drone in Second Incursion This Month
The Israeli military on Monday downed a drone that crossed into its territory from Lebanon, saying it “likely belongs” to the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah.
The drone was monitored by the air control units throughout the incident, the Israel Defense Forces said. “We will continue to operate to prevent any attempt to violate Israeli sovereignty.”
The incident comes as the Israeli and the Lebanese governments participate in US-facilitated negotiations to determine maritime boundaries, amid a dispute over the ownership of offshore energy assets in the Mediterranean.
The longstanding issue drew renewed attention with last month’s arrival of a rig to the offshore Karish (“shark”) gas field, which Israel has said is firmly within its exclusive economic zone. Lebanon has maintained that it is located in disputed territory, with its president and premier both warning Israel against operations there.
Hezbollah has threatened Israel over the dispute, with its chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah saying on Wednesday, “If you don’t give us the rights that our state is asking for … then we could flip the table on everyone.”
Monday’s incident marks the second time this month that the IDF acknowledged downing drones sent from Lebanese territory. On July 2, the Israeli military said it intercepted several drones launched by Hezbollah from Lebanon towards the Karish gas rig. Hezbollah claimed at the time that the drones were on a reconnaissance mission, and that “the message was delivered.”
The State Department on Friday underscored its commitment to negotiations between Israel and Lebanon, which have no formal relations, applauding “the consultative and open spirit of the parties to reach a final decision” and saying that the Biden administration “believes a resolution is possible.”