JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday a drone aircraft, which flew some 35 miles into Israel before being shot down last weekend, was sent by Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah.
In a statement from his office, Netanyahu said during a tour of the southern frontier with Egypt that Israel would “act with determination to defend its borders”, just as “we thwarted over the weekend Hezbollah’s attempt” to penetrate Israeli airspace.
Under surveillance by Israeli fighter jets, it was shot down on Saturday over a forest near the occupied West Bank. Defence officials did not, at the time, directly accuse Hezbollah - who fought an inconclusive war with Israel in 2006 - of sending it.
On at least one previous occasion, Hezbollah has launched a drone into Israel across its northern border with Lebanon. And in 2010, an Israeli warplane shot down an apparently unmanned balloon near the Dimona nuclear reactor in southern Israel.
The Israeli military released a 10-second video clip of what it said was Saturday’s mid-air interception. In the video, a small, unidentified aircraft is seen moments before being destroyed by a missile fired from a fighter jet.
Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Louise Ireland