Drone shot down by Israel appears Iranian-made headed for Dimona reactor

A still image taken from Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) video footage shows what they say is a small unidentified aircraft shot down in a mid-air interception after it crossed into southern Israel. (Reuters)

An unidentified aircraft that was shot down by Israeli air force in the south Mount Hebron area appeared to be Iranian-made aimed at penetrating the Dimona nuclear reactor possibly to examine targeting the plant in a future attack, Israeli media reported on Sunday.

Israeli news website Ynet reported that although the aircraft that entered the Israeli airspace from the Mediterranean Sea would not have caused damage to the nuclear plant, it would have given Iran and Hezbollah a major psychological victory.

Military spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Avital Leibovich later told reporters: “This drone was spotted over the Mediterranean in a sector near the Gaza Strip before entering Israeli airspace, where the air force followed it.”

“It was followed from the beginning until the time it was decided to intercept it and shoot it down for operational reasons over the Yatir Forest in the northern Negev, an uninhabited region.”

Israel was not aware that Hezbollah had advanced technology necessary to operate a drone over a long distance, the website reported, adding the military was trying to determine whether the drone was remotely controlled from a Lebanon-based command center or if it was controlled by space-based satellite navigation system (GPS). If It turns out that it was controlled by GPS, the drone was likely meant to return to its base or explode over the sea.

Israeli fighter jets on Monday flew on low altitude in the Lebanese skies, Al Arabiya correspondent reported, in what could a surveillance mission following the downing of the unidentified drone.

“Israel is aware of Iran and Hezbollah's technological capabilities. The current discussion is about how Israel should respond to such an infiltration of a drone and if it should be compared to the launching of a missile or rocket from Lebanon, which has always drawn an immediate response in the form of artillery fire or aerial strikes on targets in south Lebanon,” a senior security official told Ynet Saturday night.

Israeli is also afraid that unmanned aircrafts will likely be used in suicide missions by its enemies, such as Hezbollah and Iran.

“In the next war Syrian and Iranian drones will also be sent on ‘suicide’ missions,” a senior Air Force official recently told Ynet.

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