Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah acknowledged on Thursday sending a drone aircraft into Israel on Saturday which was then shot down by the IDF.
Nasrallah said in a televised speech on the Al- Manar station that the drone was Iranian-made and that it was shot down near the Dimona nuclear reactor.
“The drone flew over sensitive installations inside southern Palestine,” he said.
Nasrallah claimed the Ayoub drone was designed and manufactured in Iran and assembled in Lebanon, denying reports that the drone was a Russian design.
The Hezbollah leader said the drone was sent as a response to what he referred to as Israel's violations of Lebanese airspace since 2006.
"This flight was not our first will not be our last, and we give assurances we can reach any point we want. We have the right to dispatch recon planes over occupied Palestine at any time," Nasrallah said.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu named Hezbollah as the group behind the drone during a tour of the fence that is being built on the border with Egypt.
Netanyahu said Israel would “act with determination to defend its borders at sea, on air and land” just as it had “thwarted Hezbollah’s attempt over the weekend,” to send an unmanned aircraft into Israeli airspace.
IAF chief Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel told a group of about 100 new officers on Thursday that the drone intrusion was part of a daily battle being waged against Israel.
“The environment in which we live is changing quickly,” Eshel said. “Part of [the region] rejects our values and our right to exist.
Now, too, leaders declare their intention to destroy us, while to our north, tens of thousands of people are being butchered and the world is standing on the sidelines.”
Netanyahu praised the IDF for being on pace to complete the fence well ahead of schedule. More than 213 km. of the 242-km. fence has been built.
“Two years ago, there was no fence here,” he said. “Three thousand migrants were coming in every month and it could have escalated to a lot more, which could have been fatal for Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”
In a veiled reference to the January election, Netanyahu vowed to return to the fence in six months when it will be complete.
Tamara Zieve and Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.