News24

Israelis fly mock raids over Lebanon

2012-10-07 22:08

Beirut - Israeli warplanes swooped low over Lebanese villages on Sunday in a menacing show of force apparently aimed at the Hezbollah guerrilla group after a mysterious raid by an unmanned aircraft that was shot out of Israeli skies over the weekend.

Israel was still investigating Saturday's incident, but Hezbollah quickly emerged as the leading suspect because it has an arsenal of sophisticated Iranian weapons and a history of trying to deploy similar aircraft.

The Israeli military said the drone approached Israel's southern Mediterranean coast and flew deep into Israeli airspace before warplanes shot it down about 20 minutes later. Israeli news reports said the drone was not carrying explosives and appeared to be on a reconnaissance mission.

Military officials would not say where the drone originated or who produced it, but they ruled out the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by Hamas, a group not known to possess drones. That left Hezbollah as the most likely culprit and suggested the drone may have flown with the blessing of Iran.

Tensions are high between Israel and Iran over Tehran's suspect nuclear programme.

"It is an Iranian drone that was launched by Hezbollah," Israeli lawmaker Miri Regev, a former chief spokesperson for the Israeli military, wrote on her Twitter feed. "Hezbollah and Iran continue to try to collect information in every possible way in order to harm Israel."

She did not offer any further evidence and was not immediately available for comment.

Hezbollah officials would not comment on speculation that the group had launched the drone.

The Israeli dailies Yediot Ahronot and Maariv published maps based on military "estimates" that claimed to show the route taken by the drone.

Made in Iran

The maps said 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 claimed the drone was made in Iran.

The Israeli military said it began tracking the aircraft over the Mediterranean but waited until it was over an empty, desert area to bring it down in order to avoid casualties on the ground.

Sunday's Israeli air raids, buzzing over pro-Hezbollah villages in southern Lebanon, appeared to be aimed at reminding the guerrilla group of Israel's air superiority.

At times of heightened tensions, the Israeli air force often carries out mock raids over Lebanese territory. Israel has US-made F-15 and F-16 warplanes, but it was not clear exactly what type of planes were flown on Sunday.

Lebanon's national news agency said the planes flew low over the market town of Nabatiyeh and nearby villages.

With a formidable arsenal that rivals that of the Lebanese army, Hezbollah is already under pressure in Lebanon from rivals who accuse it of putting Lebanon at risk of getting sucked into regional turmoil. Confirmation that Hezbollah was behind the drone would put the group under further strain internally.

Hezbollah, a powerful Shi'ite group committed to Israel's destruction, has long served as an Iranian proxy along Israel's northern border. The two sides fought a brutal, monthlong war in mid-2006. Hundreds of people were killed, and Hezbollah fired several thousand rockets and missiles into Israel before the conflict ended in a stalemate.

Hezbollah has attempted to send unmanned aerial vehicles into Israel on several occasions dating back to 2004. Its leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, has claimed that the group's pilotless aircraft were capable of carrying explosives and striking deep into Israel.

The last known attempt by Hezbollah to use a drone took place during the 2006 war, when Israel shot down an Iranian-made pilotless aircraft that entered Israeli airspace.

Covert battle

Since the fighting ended, the sides have been locked in a covert battle against one another.

"The war between Hezbollah and Israel was not extinguished at any moment, be it in the media or at the intelligence level," said Ibrahim Bayram, an expert on Shi'ite affairs who often writes about Hezbollah for Lebanon's An-Nahar newspaper.

"Israel is always trying to breach Hezbollah's security and in return Hezbollah is also working day and night to breach Israel's security," he added.

Hezbollah has accused Israel of assassinating a top Hezbollah operative in 2008 in Syria. The group and Lebanese officials say they have broken up several Israeli spy rings inside Lebanon over the past few years.

Israel, meanwhile, believes Hezbollah, with Iranian backing, is behind a string of attempted attacks on Israeli diplomatic targets in India, Thailand and the former Soviet republic of Georgia, plus a deadly bombing earlier this year that killed five Israeli tourists in a Bulgarian resort.

Last week, Israel announced the arrest of an Arab citizen it accused of spying for Hezbollah, the latest in a string of such cases.

Many speculated that the aircraft was trying to gather intelligence on Israel's secretive nuclear reactor in the southern desert town of Dimona. Foreign experts believe the facility houses an arsenal of nuclear weapons, a claim that Israel neither confirms nor denies.

"It's quite a long distance, indicating a high level of sophistication," said Shlomo Brom, a retired Israeli general who is now an analyst at the Institute for National Security Studies, an Israeli think tank.

The drone flight also came against the broader backdrop of rising tensions between Israel and Iran.

Threaten existence

Israel accuses Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons, which it believes would threaten its existence, given the repeated calls by Iranian leaders for the destruction of Israel. Iran insists its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only.

Israeli leaders have repeatedly held out the possibility of attacking Iranian nuclear facilities if they conclude that international sanctions and diplomacy have failed to curb the Iranian programme.

Iran, in turn, has threatened to retaliate if it is attacked, raising the possibility of Hezbollah unleashing more rockets and missiles into Israel. Hezbollah has not said how it will react to an Israeli attack on its benefactor.

Iran recently claimed it now has drones capable of carrying missiles as far as 2 000km, putting much of the Middle East, including Israel, within distance. The aircraft appeared to be similar to the American RQ-170 Sentinel, one of which went down in Iranian territory last year.

Iran said it was building a copy of the RQ-170 in April.

Iran frequently makes announcements about its strides in military technology, but it is virtually impossible to independently determine the capabilities of its weapons.

Yiftah Shapir, another analyst at the INSS, said Saturday's incident may have been meant as a warning to Israel.

"The drone could be a message that they have the capability to pull this off, and do so perhaps with weapons," he said.

He said Israel probably allowed the drone to fly so far into its airspace, instead of shooting it over the sea, in order to analyze its capabilities before taking it down.

Comments
  • scholesss - 2012-10-07 23:34

    my israel on gaurd, watch out

      gerhard.kress.3 - 2012-10-08 06:39

      Hadjis don't have balls.

      larry.lachman.54 - 2012-10-08 06:42

      Why did Hisballah stop kicking Isreal's ass then? Did Hisballah suddenly get compassion for Israel and therefore stopped 'winning' its little war? You guys sre so deeply humiliated by Isreal, that you pretend imaginary conquests if a few rockets land in Israel. Porkchops.

      duncan.gill1 - 2012-10-08 13:06

      my Israel on drugs! you mean?

      rabeca.issa - 2012-10-08 13:46

      Culture of corruption with a history of conflict angering God, the Zionist never helped a single Syrian refugee and they went beyond that by dumping a half million Palestinian on Lebanese Land.

  • Rashida Patel - 2012-10-08 00:06

    As usual ,apartheid israel looking to start wars...then lie: arabs are terrorists!

      larry.lachman.54 - 2012-10-08 06:36

      Sick puppy. Such twisted reasoning. Utter imbecile.

      richard.bosmano - 2012-10-08 08:55

      hisbolla violate Israeli air space and expect no retaliation,even if it was a mock run. As for lies , talking about Israel as an apartheid state , only the muslims say so.So who cares.

      duncan.gill1 - 2012-10-08 13:09

      @larry please tell do you have a star of david tatoo on your togas?

      rabeca.issa - 2012-10-08 13:49

      Arabs and Zionists are half brothers from different mothers, a history of jealousy and wars over power in the region and they will never win anything but increasing the numbers of refugees from their war crimes

      larry.lachman.54 - 2012-10-09 06:21

      Dunkie, do you have a swastika tatoo on your brain?

  • daniel.salomon.752 - 2012-10-08 06:19

    Excuse me? Terrorist and Apartheid State? Got beaten by Hezbollah? Get your facts straight before you try to use your less than average IQ to make yourself sound clever and important... They gave Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and Jordan the Military hiding of a lifetime not once, twice but three times in 1948, 1967 and 1972 and in countless other smaller skirmishes along the Golan Heights and in the Sinai and will keep on doing it again and again. As for being a Terrorist State, if you were constantly on the receiving end of rockets, bombs and suicide attacks wouldn't you wish to find way to stop it? Or would you rather let your citizens die at the hands of the real coward terrorists who hide behind innocent woman and children and fight under the banner of "Freedom Fighters"?

      dawood.timol - 2012-10-08 09:42

      hard to argue with greedy,terrorist,poverty alleviating, thieving zionists. The real threat to not only Arab and Muslim peace, but even world peace. The caucasians dont realise what these evil zionists are doing to the world economy by means of wars. They have the American and European govts and inturn armies in their palms and are there to control world resources and wealth by any means possible. I dont condone what Hitler did, but he became aware of the plot.Most jews are peace loving, but the few aligned with zionists and conservatives will be the ones to start WW3. Hezbollah, a little force kicked israels ass during the 2006 war. israel denies it liost a feww hundred soldiers, but thats what happened to them. All they are good at doing is attacking and murdering innocent civilians and saying they've killed terrorists.These evil forces and their threat is mentioned in the bible. But most christians are not aware of this.

      dawood.timol - 2012-10-08 09:43

      correction :poverty ellevating

      rabeca.issa - 2012-10-08 13:52

      Every state who don't help poor people and refugees is just like a terrorist state, especially when it come to Syrian refugees or Palestinian. Selfish policy full of hate and nothing but wars and crimes by both sides, shameful history from the people who believe in one God.

      dawood.timol - 2012-10-08 17:00

      @ Quack the most powerful with big brother US in the forefront. Their might is over-rated. Do the propogandist western puppet media enlighten gullible sponges like urself about how many innocent Paletinians get murdered by a warmongering, bloodthirsty terrorist state like israel.But ur like a horse with blinkers believing everything you hear by whites. That makes u a racist,foolish, idiotic sponge.What morality does a thieving nation have. Look at their greedy citizens worldwide whom usurp forcefully frm sovereign nations via the US and European armies. This is one of the reasons the OWS movement was initiated. Hitler unfortunately killed thousands b'cos of a few zionist p.gs...theyve ruined the US and world economy, and nriched themselves at the expense of the working class. Wke up and smell the coffee, cos ur also at their mercy,idiot.

  • duncan.gill1 - 2012-10-08 08:31

    Israel will see its rear end if it tries to attack Lebanon again,they got creamed last time next time they will get a real hiding!Its time for reasonable minded Israelis to change their government and take control of their country!Israel must then start serious negotiations to find a peace deal with the Palestinians before its to late!

      richard.bosmano - 2012-10-08 09:00

      Bit early to be reaching for the bottle huh , drunken delusions . Peace will come when the falestinians want peace with Israel instead of it's destruction. Israel is smaller then the Kruger park FFS.

      dave.kofang - 2012-10-08 10:28

      There will never be peace in the middle east as long as theres powerful jewish lobby groups pulling the strings from america.They dnt care bcos they wont caught in the conflict.They are blinded by their false'GOD'S CHOSEN PEOPLE' mantra.

      rabeca.issa - 2012-10-08 13:55

      Stop adding fuel to fire, no one ever won anything during the entire history of their evil wars, whether Zionist or Arabs with a common ancestry and God. More refugees and war crimes as a result of their evil desire for power.

  • dean.strong.395 - 2012-10-08 08:37

    petty people, petty minds, violent resolve

      rabeca.issa - 2012-10-08 13:57

      The failure to live in peace side by side from the People of the same God, nothing but shameful states with evil regimes, paving the road for more war crimes.

  • philhaj - 2012-10-08 08:38

    Israel knows that this time around the war is not going to be fought across the borders only and the jewish casualties will be higher than before thats why they dont want to start a war without America.With Hezbollah/Iran having drones its not going to be easy and as much as Iran dont have nuclear weapons ,they got enough toxic chemicals and missiles to hit every part of Israel..dont get excited because at the end of the war there will be NO winner.

      philhaj - 2012-10-08 09:00

      my point is at the end of that war you all excited about,there will be NO WINNER..no matter how strong you are.

      rabeca.issa - 2012-10-08 14:01

      Israel provocative policy helped their half brothers from different mothers the Arabs to improve their fighting tools. No one will win any stupid war, only will increase the number of refugees and destruction.

  • bheki.moyo.39 - 2012-10-08 08:45

    You can't threaten Israel and go unpunished never. So Iran be careful Israel fights with help from God.

      philhaj - 2012-10-08 09:04

      Have you seen how the Palestinians are suffering at the hands of Israel?if thats what God does then am with the devil.

      ari.potah - 2012-10-08 09:47

      God does not take sides in silly human conflict. It has more important things to do - like running a Universe that is infinite.

      dave.kofang - 2012-10-08 10:20

      @bheki ur a worst idiot of all.Hw can u mix God with murderers like israel.

      duncan.gill1 - 2012-10-08 12:59

      God only answers the phone when the call is from the Vatican!!

      duncan.gill1 - 2012-10-08 13:03

      As said in the New Testament when speaking to his disciples "There are many who will come from the East and the West,who will enter the gates of heaven as there are many among you,the chosen people, who will be not be worthy to enter the gates of Heaven"

      rabeca.issa - 2012-10-08 14:05

      Get a life who are the Zionist, the world police? they are nothing but just like their half brothers from different mothers the Arabs, terrorism is their tool and weapon and at the end of the day more crimes and casualties. They will be racing at the steps of the white house asking for help, because of their failed history to live in peace side by side and enjoy the gift of their single God.

  • ari.potah - 2012-10-08 09:45

    The drone is an Israeli false flag operation. This is necessary as an attempt to restore some dignity to the zionist regime after their dear leader made such a fool of himself at the UN General Assembly. Then blame Iran - it follows.

  • dave.kofang - 2012-10-08 10:16

    An act of provocation from israel.I wonder who will one day pot israel in their place.

      ari.potah - 2012-10-08 11:10

      @adam.jackson - If you read the actual history - not the hasbara and other propaganda currently trotted out as fact, you may find that the instigators of the various incidents you refer to were other than what you would have us believe. For example, in 1948 "Fighters for the Freedom of Israel ("Lehi"), commonly referred to in English as the Stern Gang,was a militant Zionist group. Its avowed aim was forcibly evicting the British authorities from Palestine, allowing unrestricted immigration of Jews and the formation of a Jewish state. Lehi twice attempted to form an alliance with the Nazis. It was described as a terrorist organization by the British authorities. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lehi_(group) Use facts to argue - not your beliefs . . .

      rabeca.issa - 2012-10-08 14:09

      Who kicked half million Palestinian out of their homes into Lebanon and turn blind eye in helping a single Syrian refugee. You can create as many excuses as you want, but God is there and watching your evil wars with your own half brothers from different mothers

  • rabeca.issa - 2012-10-08 13:43

    The Zionist are nothing but a twin regime with the Syrian, who hate every one else with different religion on the land of God . Zionist just like their half brothers from different mothers the Arabs. Dirty game and show of military muscles, instead of human being help from becoming refugees in the region. The Zionist never helped a single Syrian refugee, they even went beyond that by dumping half million Palestinian on Lebanese land.

  • rabeca.issa - 2012-10-10 12:46

    This is a model of provocative policy it will not help the UN forces or the Lebanese army to maintain peace in their hard security job, reality is every air space violation by Israel is a wrong definition and will generate more enemies for all sides by loosing the harts and minds of the real local people in the region, and this is a great opportunity for the international terrorism to step in within the vaccum created by the Zionist actions. Israel need to go after the real rocket launcher and the provider, Iran and Syria, not Lebanon.

  • joseph.motloung.3 - 2012-10-15 16:14

    The Neo Nazi Zionist entity is weak. They receive more than $3 billion from the US but they are still given a tough time by Hezbollah which gets way less than that from Iran. Goes to show that if the nazi's are weak

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