Erdan warns UNSC of Hezbollah drone, precision missile threat to Israel

"It is clear that Hezbollah, the Iranian proxy in Lebanon, serves as a tool to advance Iran’s agenda and quest for regional hegemony," Erdan said.

 Missiles of the kind used during Iran's retaliatory strike on the U.S Ayn al-Asad military base in 2020 are seen on display at Imam Khomeini Grand Mosalla in Tehran, Iran January 7, 2022. (photo credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)
Missiles of the kind used during Iran's retaliatory strike on the U.S Ayn al-Asad military base in 2020 are seen on display at Imam Khomeini Grand Mosalla in Tehran, Iran January 7, 2022.
(photo credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)

Hezbollah’s efforts to obtain drones and precision-guided missiles heighten the threat along Israel’s already sensitive northern border with Lebanon, Ambassador Gilad Erdan told UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

He wrote to Guterres in advance of a Security Council discussion scheduled for Thursday on the secretary-general’s periodic report on adherence to Resolution 1701, which set the ceasefire terms that ended the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

There are “troubling developments,” Erdan wrote, “which threaten the peace and security of Israel and Lebanon, as well as the region as a whole.” These include “efforts by Hezbollah to obtain advanced weapon systems, including UAVs and Precision-Guided Missiles, underline a troubling reality on the ground.”

Erdan referenced Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah’s February 16 speech in which he spoke of his group’s “advanced capabilities in self-production of drones, and its acquired ability to convert rockets into Precision-Guided Missiles (PGM).”

“Nasrallah once again referred to the Iranian regimes’ assistance and expertise in transforming Hezbollah’s arsenal of rockets into PGM’s, and Hezbollah’s coordinated cooperation with “experts from the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Erdan said.

 Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah gives a televised speech, in this screengrab taken from Al-Manar TV footage, Lebanon October 18, 2021. (credit: AL-MANAR TV/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS) Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah gives a televised speech, in this screengrab taken from Al-Manar TV footage, Lebanon October 18, 2021. (credit: AL-MANAR TV/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

Drones have been launched “from within UNIFIL’s area of operations in southern Lebanon, infiltrating Israeli airspace in clear violation of Israel’s sovereignty,” the ambassador charged, and there is evidence “of Hezbollah’s continued military buildup. It is clear that Hezbollah, the Iranian proxy in Lebanon, serves as a tool to advance Iran’s agenda and quest for regional hegemony.”

Erdan also took issue with attacks on the UNIFIL peacekeeping force, as well as restrictions on its freedom of movement.

Israel condemns those provocations, and holds the Lebanese government accountable for them, said Erdan.

“Lebanon must not allow Hezbollah to adversely affect regional security and stability,” he wrote.

According to the ALMA Research Center, Hezbollah has 2,000 unmanned aerial vehicles, many of them advanced UAVs from Iran and others manufactured independently by the Lebanese terror group.

Hezbollah has been using UAVs since the 1990s, and has used its drones in Syria as well as against Israel. Even before the Second Lebanon War, the group launched drones into the Jewish state, and launched several armed drones into the country during the war.

 A drone is seen during an Iranian Army exercise dubbed 'Zulfiqar 1400', in the coastal area of the Gulf of Oman, Iran, in this picture obtained on November 7, 2021 (credit: IRANIAN ARMY/WANA/REUTERS) A drone is seen during an Iranian Army exercise dubbed 'Zulfiqar 1400', in the coastal area of the Gulf of Oman, Iran, in this picture obtained on November 7, 2021 (credit: IRANIAN ARMY/WANA/REUTERS)

The IAF, considered the strongest air force in the Middle East, has admitted that identifying and intercepting hostile drones – whether belonging to Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, or Iranian ones – is challenging, and considers drones to be one of the top five threats facing the country.

Last month, Hezbollah flew a small, remotely piloted aircraft into Israeli airspace. According to the terror group, the platform was able to fly inside Israel for 40 minutes before being identified. The IAF dispatched fighter jets to take it down but decided that it would be too risky to intercept the device with a missile, which could have fallen on residential areas like Rosh Pina if it had missed.

A Tamir interceptor missile was then launched from an Iron Dome battery, which did miss, so the Hezbollah platform was able to fly back to Lebanon to its operators.

The IAF understands that the Islamic Republic’s defense industry is robust, constantly working to improve and manufacture systems and platforms that can threaten Israel and other countries in the region.

Although the IDF has various ways to intercept drones – like electronic warfare, the Iron Dome and fighter jets like the F-35 – these drone platforms are a challenge to identify and shoot down since they are small, fast and fly low to the ground, making it hard for Israeli radar to detect them.

In addition to its drones, the terror group has an arsenal of an estimated 150,000 rockets and missiles. While Hezbollah has been working on its precision-guided missile project for close to a decade, the group is not believed to possess more than several dozen.