IDF rejects Lebanese reports of downed jet

The IDF denied Lebanese reports on Monday that Hizbullah had succeeded in downing an Israeli fighter jet. Hizbullah-backed Al Manar television claimed that an IAF jet had crashed in eastern Lebanon and that an explosion was seen in the sky above. The IDF, however, rejected the report and said that an Iranian-made long-range Zelzal missile fired by Hizbullah had exploded prematurely and caused the explosion. The Zelzal is believed to have a range of over 200 kilometers and could, officials said, reach Tel Aviv. The IAF, officials said, has carried out over 2,000 sorties over Lebanon so far without any Israeli casualties or damage despite resistance from Lebanese anti-aircraft squads. The IDF, a high-ranking Military Intelligence officer said Sunday night, was working on the assumption that Hizbullah was in possession of most of Iran's advanced weaponry including anti-aircraft missiles. During a meeting of the Labor faction on Monday, Defense Minister Amir Peretz also rejected the reports, declaring that a plane had not been shot down.