Israel announced on Thursday that it had shot down a drone approaching its coast about five miles west of the northern city of Haifa. Israeli officials said that the drone came from Lebanon and was probably an Iranian-made aircraft belonging to Hezbollah.
An Israeli F-16 downed the drone with an air-to-air missile, and the Israeli navy is attempting to recover it.
Hezbollah denied sending the drone. It also initially denied deploying a drone that Israel shot down last October before later admitting that it was responsible. Israeli defense officials are concerned that Hezbollah is testing Israeli air defenses and could one day launch a wave of drones armed with high explosive warheads against Israeli targets.
Iran has provided Hezbollah with increasingly sophisticated drones since 2002, and some have been deployed over Israel since at least 2004. During Israel’s 2006 war with Hezbollah, several drones carrying explosive warheads were shot down over northern Israel.
In 2010, a suspicious flying object described as a motorized balloon was shot down near Israel’s nuclear reactor at Dimona. If Iran or Hezbollah were involved in this incident, it could signal the intention to target Israel’s nuclear complex at Dimona if Israel launches an air strike against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.
Iran has also provided drones to Syria, which has deployed them to find and target rebel forces.
The latest drone incident is another episode in what Heritage Foundation Vice President James Carafano has called Hezbollah’s “global offensive.” The United States and its allies should vigilantly crack down on Hezbollah’s criminal activities and fundraising networks to diminish its potential threat.