(photo credit: Reuters)
Of all the hostile elements seeking to harm Israeli national security, only two
have the capability, track record and motivation to send drones into Israeli
airspace: Iran and its Shi’ite proxy Hezbollah.
The IDF has refused to
comment on where the drone that was intercepted Saturday over southern Israel
originated, or who sent it, but several factors point to Tehran and its Lebanese
terror organization as prime suspects. Ten days ago Iran showcased a new
long-range drone it said could fly to Israel and carry out reconnaissance or
The drone, called Shahed-129, was proudly unveiled by
the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps at the end of September.
reportedly has a range of 2,000 kilometers and was likely presented as part of
Iran’s attempt to reply to Israel’s fleet of massive Heron drones. Herons can
fly to Iran and carry out a range of missions, and could be deployed in a future
strike on Iran’s nuclear sites.
If Tehran wanted to send a drone toward
Israel, however, it would not have to launch one from its own territory. It has
already set up a military base in southern Lebanon in the form of Hezbollah, a
terror entity that has been trying to infiltrate Israeli airspace with its own
drones for several years.
With Iranian funds, and likely with Iranian
technological assistance, Hezbollah has been trying to build up its UAV
The latest reminder of this came in July, when an
experimental Hezbollah drone crashed in southern Lebanon.
During the 2006
Second Lebanon War, Israeli F-16 fighters intercepted a Hezbollah drone packed
with explosives that was heading toward central Israel. The small, low-flying
aircraft was tracked by the air force as soon as it took off from
In September, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said his
organization could bomb the Dimona nuclear reactor in southern
And last week The New York Times cited classified Pentagon data
as indicating that Iran had practiced bombing runs on Dimona and
In light of this background, it seems reasonable to conclude that
Iran and Hezbollah are testing out their latest drone capabilities to see how
far they can get into Israeli air space and to test Israeli
The latest incident appears to be a brazen message from Tehran
and Hezbollah saying that in any future conflict, they will attempt to reach
sensitive points deep inside Israel.
Israel will now have to decide how