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Israel and Iran Trade Barbs over Downed Drone
Israel alleges Hezbollah behind drone; Iran official pans faulty 'Iron Dome'
Israeli Defense officials reportedly intercepted a drone that crossed into Israeli airspace Saturday morning. Lieutenant-Colonel Avital Leibovich said that Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) on the ground alerted the air force to the drone and were able to bring it down without incident. Leibovich said that the drone, "flew over the Gaza Strip but did not originate from the Palestinian territory."
Though unconfirmed, Israel's investigations into the source of the drone reveal Hezbollah as the leading suspect, referring to the Lebanese Shi'ite group that fought a war with Israel in 2006. Israeli Parliament member and former military spokeswoman, Miri Regev, brazenly tweeted "It is an Iranian drone that was launched by Hezbollah…Hezbollah and Iran continue to try to collect information in every possible way in order to harm Israel."
The Associated Press reports that Israeli publications Yediot Ahronot and Maariv published maps based on military "estimates" that claim to show the route taken by the drone. The maps indicate that the aircraft "took off south of the Lebanese coastal city of Sidon, headed south and then turned east over the Gaza Strip and into Israel." Yediot also claims that the drone was made in Iran. Hezbollah officials would not comment on speculation that the group had launched the drone.
On Sunday, one day after the drone's appearance, IDF warplanes buzzed over Lebanese villages; the planes flew low over the market town of Nabatiyeh and nearby villages.
Lebanon's Hezbollah has long historical ties with the Iranian government from which it has received financial and military-backing. As Reuters recounts, "Israel has threatened to bomb Iran's nuclear sites if diplomatic efforts fail to stop the nuclear work [they believe] is aimed at getting weapons capability." This is a charge that Tehran denies. In response to such threats, Iran has said, if attacked, it would retaliate by targeting both US military bases in the region and Israel.
Though Iran made no official statement regarding the origin of the drone, they took the opportunity to question the functionality of Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile defense system. Jamaluddin Aberoumand, deputy coordinator for Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said the incident indicated that their system "does not work and lacks the necessary capacity," the Fars news agency reported.