IDF shot down additional Hezbollah drone last week

The IDF statement came hours after Lebanese media reported about the incident.

A drone aircraft is put on display at an exhibition at an unidentified location in Yemen in this undated handout photo released by the Houthi Media Office, July 9, 2019. (photo credit: HOUTHI MEDIA OFFICE/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
A drone aircraft is put on display at an exhibition at an unidentified location in Yemen in this undated handout photo released by the Houthi Media Office, July 9, 2019.
(photo credit: HOUTHI MEDIA OFFICE/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

The IDF shot down a drone belonging to Hezbollah which was heading from Lebanon towards Israel's territorial waters last week, just days before three drones were shot down while headed towards the Karish gas field off the coast of northern Israel, the IDF Spokesperson's Unit announced on Wednesday.

The drone was dropped a far distance from the maritime border, without posing a threat or danger to Israel.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Lebanese Al-Akhbar news reported that Hezbollah had launched a drone towards the gas field last Wednesday, three days before three drones belonging to the terrorist movement were shot down by the IDF.

Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Manar TV reporter Ali Shoeib claimed on Wednesday that the drone was not downed and returned without being hit.

On Saturday, the IDF announced that it had shot down three unmanned aerial vehicles launched by Hezbollah toward Israel’s economic waters over the Mediterranean Sea.

London-based Energean’s drill ship begins drilling at the Karish natural gas field offshore Israel in the east Mediterranean May 9, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/Ari Rabinovitch)London-based Energean’s drill ship begins drilling at the Karish natural gas field offshore Israel in the east Mediterranean May 9, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/Ari Rabinovitch)

One of the three UAVs was shot down by an F-16 and two others were downed by the naval Barak 8 medium-range surface-to-air missile system on the INS Eilat, marking the first time the system was used against aerial threats.

The UAVs were identified at an early stage in their flight by the IDF, monitored throughout their flight and intercepted at the most appropriate operational point by the fighter jet and missile ship.

Maritime border demarcation talks continue

The latest report of a drone being intercepted comes amid continuing efforts by Israel and Lebanon to reach an agreement concerning the demarcation of the maritime border between the two countries in indirect talks mediated by the US.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun stated on Wednesday that a solution regarding the maritime border demarcation negotiations with Israel would be reached soon, saying "I believe that we have reached an understanding with the Americans who are mediators between us and Israel," according to Lebanese media.

"The results of the demarcation will be positive for the benefit of both parties, and if the atmosphere was not positive, we would not have followed the negotiation process," added Aoun.

On Tuesday, Hezbollah-allied Free Patriotic Movement head Gebran Bassil stated that there is a "serious opportunity" in the maritime border talks and that the gap in the dispute was narrowing, but stressed that the solutions are "still not clear" and that Lebanon should insist on an equation in which Israel would get the Karish gas field if Lebanon gets the Qana gas field.

"Most importantly, the demarcation is to allow us to dig, and this is the right time for Lebanon to implement just diplomatic solutions for it, while using its strengths, and we are not weak," said Bassil.

Lebanese officials have expressed outrage at Hezbollah's launching of drones towards the gas field, stressing that the country is committed to avoiding provocations during negotiations.

"Lebanon considers that any action outside the framework of the state's responsibility and the diplomatic context in which the negotiations are happening is unacceptable and exposes (Lebanon) to unnecessary risks," a statement by the office of Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati office said on Monday.

Lebanese media reported earlier this week that US mediator Amos Hochstein had warned Lebanese officials that the drone launches could harm the negotiations.

Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.