The IDF denied claims that Hezbollah shot down a drone in the pre-dawn hours of Monday over south Lebanon, stating that a small surveillance drone crashed.According to the military, the UAV fell in southern Lebanon while performing reconnaissance operations. There was no concern that the Lebanese Shi’ite group got hold of any intelligence from the drone. Hezbollah, meanwhile said they had "confronted" the Israel drone with "appropriate weapons" as it was heading towards the town of Ramiyeh. The wreckage is now in the hands of Hezbollah's fighters, the Iranian-backed terrorist group said in a statement.The drone came down outside the village where Hezbollah had dug their flagship 1-km.-long cross-border tunnel that infiltrated several dozen meters into northern Israel, close to the communities of Zarit and Shetula.It was the last one discovered by the IDF in early January, and was the largest and most strategic of the six cross-border tunnels dug by the Lebanese Shi’ite group which had planned to have dozens of terrorists attack the nearby communities in the next war between Hezbollah and Israel.
The incident came a week after Hezbollah and Israel exchanged cross-border fire following an Israeli airstrike in Syria killed two militants planning a drone attack against Israel. It was the fiercest bout of violence since the 2006 Second Lebanon War.
While the group retaliated for Syria, Lebanon’s LBCI’s news channel that Hezbollah warned that it would retaliate for an alleged Israel drone attack in their southern Beirut stronghold of Dahiyeh which targeted the group’s precision missile project.
“Retaliation over drones will be in kind, and will be at its own time and according to its own circumstances,” Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warned.
Nasrallah said while a flare-up with Israel at the border was over, the episode had launched a “new phase” in which the Iran-backed group no longer had red lines.
Despite the continued tension along the border, LBCI reported that US mediation regarding the demarcation of the land and maritime borders between Israel and Lebanon is expected to resume “within the next few hours.”
US Envoy David Schenker is expected to hold discussions with Lebanese officials, mainly with Speaker Nabih Berri.
The UN-demarcated Blue Line currently separates Lebanon and Israel’s territory with more than 200 points. Thirteen of the points are disputed by the Lebanese government.
The two countries also have an unresolved maritime border dispute over a triangular area of sea of around 860 sq. km., which extends along several blocks for exploratory offshore drilling Lebanon put for tender two years ago.