Israel sees future drone threat from Lebanon, Gaza

TEL AVIV Mon Mar 10, 2014 9:58am EDT

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TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Israel fears guerrillas in Lebanon and Gaza would deploy exploding drones against the Jewish state in a future war as well as their main rocket arsenals, the chief of Israeli air defense said on Monday.

"We will have to cope with dozens of pilotless aerial vehicles, in both the northern and southern fronts," Major-General Shachar Shohat, told a Tel Aviv security conference.

Israel is itself a world leader in drone technologies and has used the vehicles extensively in combat.

Uzi Rabin, an Israeli aerospace expert, said Israel's Iron Dome and Patriot missile interceptors were capable of shooting down most drones. Israel is separately developing Iron Beam, a laser system for vaporizing short-range mortar bombs and says it also will be able to destroy small drones.

Shohat said the guerrillas' drones would range from radio-controlled model airplanes weighing a few kilos to large drones with payloads of hundreds of kilos.

Another air force officer said Shohat was referring to drones carrying explosives and designed to crash into targets.

The reference to the heavier kind of vehicle, suggested Israel believes that Lebanon's Hezbollah group will receive such drones from Iran.

Hezbollah, Hamas and other Islamist militias have fired thousands of rockets at militarily superior Israel in previous conflicts, but have made scant use of drones.

Shohat, however, said at the conference, organized by the INSS think tank, that drones were now part of enemy guerrilla strategies.

Drones flew into Israeli airspace from Lebanon on at least two occasions in 2012 and 2013, apparently on photography missions and bids to probe air defenses. Israeli jets shot them down.

After the 2012 incident, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah acknowledged sending a drone that flew some 25 miles into Israel. He said the drone's parts were made in Iran and it was assembled by Hezbollah members in Lebanon.

Nasrallah has denied that Hezbollah or the Iranian Revolutionary Guards were responsible for the 2013 flight.

(Editing by Jeffrey Heller)

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Comments (2)
rgbviews wrote:
It is time to break the vicious circle. We should have learned by now that military technology does not bring peace. It may take generations, but one day there should be no reason to attack Israel or for Israel to attack its neighbours.

The UN must impose sanctions on parties whose actions escalate tensions and reward parties whose actions de-escalate tensions and promote normalized relations. The international courts must punish those that violate international laws.

Mar 10, 2014 11:57am EDT  --  Report as abuse
FOL wrote:
Major-General Shohat has much audacity to complain about the potential use of drones in Israeli airspace, when Israel itself has been sending drones (and helicopters and warplanes) into Lebanese airspace on nearly a daily basis for the past seven and a half years. A recent report from the Lebanese National News Agency is typical:

“On Wednesday [5 March 2014] at 8:40 p.m., an Israeli drone violates Lebanese airspace over Rmeich village, executed circular flight over Marjeayoun regions, Tyre and Bint Jbeil, and then left on Thursday at 5:25 p.m. from above Alma Al-Shaab region. And on Thursday [6 March 2014] at 7:20 a.m., another Israeli drone breached the Lebanese skies from above Nakoura village, executed circular flight over Jbeil, Kesrwan, Riak,Baalbeck and Beirut and its suburbs, and then left at 6:00 p.m. from above the said village.”

Airspace violations average over 90 per month. These violations are routinely reported to the UN and just as routinely ignored by the UN. And, we might add, just as routinely ignored by Western media.

Mar 11, 2014 4:56am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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