Israel says it shot down Hezbollah drone

Israel says it shot down Hezbollah drone
A drone from Lebanon's Hezbollah movement that crossed into Israeli airspace was shot down, Israel said on Thursday.
3 min read
The drone reportedly crossed the border [Getty]

The Israeli army on Thursday said it had shot down a drone from the Lebanese Shia movement Hezbollah that had crossed into Israeli airspace the previous night.

The announcement came nearly a week after Israel carried out its first air raids on Lebanese soil in years, prompting Hezbollah to fire rockets back at the Jewish state the following day.

"A Hezbollah drone crossed from Lebanon into Israeli airspace in the eastern part of the Blue Line yesterday," Israel's army said, referring to the UN-demarcated border.

"Our troops monitored and successfully downed the drone," the army said, adding that it forces will "continue to operate in order to prevent any attempt to violate Israeli sovereignty".

The flare-up along the border last week saw Israel carry out its first strike on Lebanon in seven years, and Hezbollah claim a direct rocket attack on Israeli territory for the first time since 2019.

Last Friday, Hezbollah said it fired dozens of rockets at open ground near Israeli positions, in the disputed Shebaa Farms border district.

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It said the attack came in response to Israeli air strikes on south Lebanon the previous day that were the first since 2014.

At the time, Israel said 19 rockets were fired, six of which hit Israeli ground, three that fell short, and with the rest intercepted by air defences.

Following last Friday's exchange, Israel said it did "not wish to escalate to a full war".

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah later vowed a "suitable and proportionate" response to any Israeli air strikes on Lebanon.

"Our response was linked to the Israeli strikes that occurred in south Lebanon for the first time in 15 years," he said in a televised speech ahead of the anniversary of the end of the last war with Israel in 2006.

"We wanted to tell the enemy... that any air strike by the Israeli air force on Lebanon will inevitably draw a response, though in a suitable and proportionate way, because we want to serve the purpose of protecting our country," he added.

Nasrallah described the air strikes this week as a "very dangerous development", but said Hezbollah did not want war. 

"We are not looking for war and we do not want to head towards war, but we are ready for it" if necessary, he said.

Israel and Lebanon fought a 33-day war in the summer of 2006 that killed 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

It ended with a UN-backed ceasefire on August 14, 2006 that saw the Lebanese army deploy along border areas.

Hezbollah is the only side not to have disarmed after Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war.

It has long been targeted by US sanctions and blacklisted as a "terrorist" organisation, but the Shia group is also a powerful political player, with seats in Lebanon's parliament.