Lebanon shoots at Israeli drones in dramatic escalation of tensions

Investigators of Lebanon’s military intelligence inspect the site after an alleged attack carried by two Israeli drones, in the southern suburb of Beirut, – REX

The Lebanese army shot at Israeli surveillance drones on Wednesday over southern Lebanon, dramatically raising tensions between the long-time foes. 

The army fired shots at two low-flying Israeli drones over the village of al-Adaisseh in south Lebanon, sources said. 

Israeli unmanned surveillance planes regularly fly into Lebanese airspace, but this was a rare attempt by the military to take them down, making good on a promise to protect its sovereignty after an Israel drone strike on Hizbollah territory in Beirut over the weekend. 

Tensions in the region are high after Israel carried out a series of attacks on Lebanese Shia group Hizbollah’s interests in both Lebanon and neighbouring Syria. 

Hizbollah had warned it was preparing a “calculated strike” against Israel in response.

An Israeli raid on a Hizbollah position near Damascus on Saturday left two fighters dead; it was followed hours later by a drone attack in southern Beirut which damaged missile-making equipment.

Two crates reportedly belonging to Hizbollah containing critical technical machinery that were destroyed in a drone strike attributed to Israel in Beirut on August 25 Credit: Twitter

“We want the strike to be a surprise…and so there is no interest in diving into the details,” said Sheikh Naim Qassem, the Lebanese Shia group’s deputy leader. “The coming days will reveal this.” 

successfully destroyed machinery used for the production of precision-guided missiles.” data-reactid=”35″>It was reported in Israeli media on Tuesday night that Israel had targeted and successfully destroyed machinery used for the production of precision-guided missiles.

The specific targets were an “industrial planetary mixer,” eight tons in size, used for the production of solid fuel propellant for precision guided missiles, as well as an electronic control system for the machine held in a separate crate.

The crate, which had reportedly been delivered by Hizbollah’s sponsor Iran, was temporarily being stored in the group’s stronghold of Dahieh in southern Beirut before it was to be transported to a factory. Pictures from the scene showed two crates on fire and badly damaged.

proxies in Syria and Lebanon. It has carried out hundreds of strikes against Hizbollah and Iranian forces’ positions in Syria, which have so far been met with little response.” data-reactid=”38″>Israel has been trying to disrupt the flow of weapons and technology from arch-rival Iran to the Islamic republic’s proxies in Syria and Lebanon. It has carried out hundreds of strikes against Hizbollah and Iranian forces’ positions in Syria, which have so far been met with little response.

Such an attack on Hizbollah on home turf, however, will be more difficult for them to ignore.

Sheikh Qassem said Hizbollah deemed it an attack that necessitated a response, but said they were not seeking a new war with its long-time foe.

Members of Hizbollah movement carry the coffin of the fellow comrade, who was killed in Israeli strikes in Syria Credit: AFP

“I rule out that the atmosphere is one of war, it is one of a response to an attack,” he told Russia’s RT Arabic channel on Tuesday night. “Everything will be decided at its time.”

Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in a speech on Sunday threatened Israel with reprisal, saying: “From tonight, I tell the Israeli army on the border, be prepared and wait for us,” he said, taunting that a retaliation could come in “one day, two days, three days…”

The attack was the first inside Lebanon since the deadly Summer War of 2006, which saw more than 1,000 Lebanese civilians and 43 Israeli killed.

The group has since seen several flare-ups with its neighbour, however it has always stopped short of an all-out conflict.