The drones Hezbollah launched toward the Karish gas rig last week were Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), confirmed Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
“Hezbollah used UAVs made in Iran in their operation against the Karish. It should be said that Hezbollah carries out missions for Iran, and its weapons are weapons made in Iran whether it is manufactured there or the knowledge acquired by them,” he said, warning that Israel will “continue to operate wherever necessary. ”
The IDF shot down three UAVs launched by Hezbollah toward the Karish on Saturday which is situated within Israel’s economic waters but disputed by Lebanon.
One of the three UAVs was shot down by an F-16 and two others were downed by the naval Barak 1 Medium-Range Surface-to-Air Missile system on the INS Eilat, marking the first time the system was used against aerial threats.
The military also confirmed that another drone launched by the Lebanese terror group was downed last Wednesday. The drone was intercepted “at a great distance from the maritime border” within Lebanon’s exclusive economic zone.
According to the ALMA Research Center Hezbollah has some 2000 unmanned aerial vehicles, many of them advanced UAVs from Iran and others manufactured independently by the Lebanese terror group.
The Israel Air Force has admitted that identifying and intercepting hostile drones is challenging and considers drones to be one of the top five threats facing the country. The defense establishment is also concerned about the damage to the IAF’s aerial superiority over Lebanon due to Hezbollah’s long-range missiles and air defense systems.
The Lebanese response
Lebanon slammed Hezbollah for the launching of the drones, which was done without the government’s consent.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib issued a joint statement on Monday stating that Hezbollah’s launch of the drones “is unacceptable and endangers the country for no reason.”
Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah has threatened to use force to prevent the Karish gas rig from producing natural gas, which is expected to start in several weeks. Israel sees the rig as a strategic asset several kilometers south of the area over which negotiations are being conducted, and has warned that it will defend it.
In addition to being officially at war, Lebanon and Israel 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.
US energy envoy Amos Hochstein is expected to join US President Joe Biden on his upcoming visit to Israel and Saudi Arabia next week and will hold meetings regarding the dispute.
On Wednesday Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun said that negotiations regarding the maritime border demarcations between Lebanon and Israel would be “finalized soon” with a “solution that would satisfy everyone.”
“Border demarcation is making progress and we will soon finalize it”
“Border demarcation is making progress and we will soon finalize it,” Aoun was quoted as saying in an interview by Lebanon’s Naharnet News site.
“I believe finalizing it will not take a long time,” he continued, adding that the agreement “will definitely be in everyone’s interest. We are demarcating a border and the two parties must be satisfied with the solution when we reach it, or else it wouldn’t be a solution, but rather hegemony by one party over the other.”
Source » jpost