UNIFIL Says Didn't Detect Crossing of Any Drone into Israelإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) on Monday said its radars did not detect the crossing of any surveillance drones from Lebanon into the Israeli airspace, amid Israeli suspicions that a drone shot down by Israeli warplanes on Saturday over the Negev area could have been sent by Hizbullah.
In an interview with Radio Voice of Lebanon (93.3), UNIFIL spokesman Andrea Tenenti said the U.N. peacekeeping force did not witness any event of a drone flying from Lebanon into the Israeli airspace.
An Israeli military official has told Israeli public radio that the Israeli army dispelled the notion that the drone might have been launched from the Gaza Strip, and was looking into the possibility that Hizbullah may have dispatched it.
The Ynet news agency said without quoting sources that "Hizbullah launched this drone. It is even possible that Iranians activated its launch and guidance system, and it is apparently of Iranian manufacture."
Ynet added: "The launching of such a craft over such a distance requires advanced means that Hizbullah does not possess up to now."
Asked about the reports by Agence France Presse, an army spokeswoman was unable to confirm or deny them.
In July 2006, the Israeli military shot down an unarmed drone operated by Hizbullah over the Jewish state's territorial waters.
And on April 12, 2005, another pilotless Hizbullah aircraft succeeded in overflying part of northern Israel without being downed.
"An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was identified penetrating Israeli airspace this morning, and was intercepted by the IAF at approximately 10:00 am (0800 GMT)," a military spokesman said on Saturday.
Soldiers were searching the area where the drone was downed, in open areas in the northern Negev, to locate and identify it, the spokesman added.
Army radio said that the aircraft was not carrying explosives.
It quoted a military spokesman as saying troops responsible for monitoring "acted as they should have done after spotting the drone following its intrusion into Israeli airspace."
Military spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Avital Leibovich later told reporters: "This drone was spotted over the Mediterranean in a sector near the Gaza Strip before entering Israeli airspace, where the air force followed it."
"It was followed from the beginning until the time it was decided to intercept it and shoot it down for operational reasons over the Yatir Forest in the northern Negev, an uninhabited region."
Leibovich called the operation a "success", but she did not say how the drone was shot down.
"Israeli soldiers are at the scene and retrieving pieces of debris," she added.