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PM: Hezbollah sent drone intercepted by Israel
By JPOST.COM STAFF
11/10/2012
During tour of security fence in southern Israel, Netanyahu vows to act with determination to defend state's borders.
 
Hezbollah was responsible for the drone that Israel shot down last weekend, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Thursday during a tour of the security fence in southern Israel.

During the tour, Netanyahu stated that 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

Israeli defense chiefs on Tuesday praised the country’s air defenses and countering claims that those who sent the craft exposed a loophole.

The entity that launched the drone failed to retrieve intelligence or harm the reputation of Israeli air defenses, said Amos Gilad, policy director of the Defense Ministry, on Tuesday, without mentioning which entity he was referring to.

Speaking to Israel Radio, Gilad reiterated the IDF’s account of the drone intrusion, saying that the craft was spotted from a long way away and, due to operational concerns, was shot down by the IDF over southern Israel when IAF officers were certain it was over an uninhabited zone.

Defense sources say the unarmed drone was sent to test Israeli responses and gather intelligence.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Air Force chief Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel visited Air Defense Command officers in a northern air base on Tuesday, in what appeared to be another sign of support.

“You are serving in an important and responsible position, especially during these times of regional uncertainties and challenges that are not simple,” Barak told the officers.

Describing the officers as a select group of “men and women who are required to strive for excellence,” the defense minister told the officers that they are meeting expectations with success.

“In the name of the Israeli government and the civilians, I came here to thank you for your dedicated and responsible work,” Barak said.

Iran was quick to try and score propaganda points from the incident. An Iranian military official was quoted on Monday by Iranian media as saying the incursion into Israeli airspace exposed the weakness of air defenses.

The IDF said the unmanned aerial vehicle was kept under observation while it flew over the Mediterranean Sea and banked eastward over Gaza and into Israel. F-16 fighter jets that were monitoring the drone shot it down south of Mount Hebron.

On Monday, the IDF confirmed reports that it deployed a Patriot surface-to-air missile battery on Mount Carmel, near Haifa.

The IDF Spokesman’s Office said the deployment “is not an unusual occurrence.”

The Patriot system can intercept medium-range ballistic missiles and planes and is also believed to be capable of shooting down drones. It can intercept threats between the ranges of 60 to 160 kilometers.

Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report
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