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Hezbollah drone crosses into Israel during military exercise

December 4, 2020 at 12:48 pm

A military drone at the Hezbollah memorial landmark in the hilltop bastion of Mleeta on 22 May 2020 [JOSEPH EID/AFP via Getty Images]

A Hezbollah drone crossed into Israel yesterday, interrupting a military exercise, Ynet News reported, citing Lebanon’s Al-Nahar television channel.

The unmanned drone crossed the disputed border during the second day of Israel’s military exercise.

The armed manoeuvre was reportedly focused on preventing drones from overflying the border from Lebanon.

The incursion was branded an espionage mission by the Jerusalem Post, which claimed the drone had been “sent to spy in Israeli territory”.

Last month, Israel claimed to have shot down a drone belonging to the Lebanese Shia group, Anadolu Agency reported.

Announcing the incident, army spokesman Avichay Adraee tweeted: “The Northern Command remains in a state of great readiness and will not allow a breach of Israel’s sovereignty.”

Both incidents come mere weeks after Hezbollah raised its alert status to the highest possible level following large Israeli military manoeuvres in late October.

The exercise, which involved fighter jets, attack helicopters, naval warships, as well as movements by ground forces, simulated war with Hezbollah.

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At the time, the Iranian-backed Shia group also summoned several of its members in anticipation of the Israeli military action.

Israeli forces later opened a training area, which simulates a Lebanese village, 300 miles from the border.

On tour of the region, Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said in a statement that Lebanese people should see Hezbollah, not Israel, as their greatest threat.

“They will pay the price of any aggression from Hezbollah”, Gantz explained.

Lebanon and Israel are currently engaged in US- and UN- brokered maritime border demarcation negotiations, in efforts to resolve the long-held dispute.

Talks were postponed “until further notice” on Tuesday after negotiations stalled, both states’ officials announced on Monday.

The joint negotiations were launched in October, with delegations from two countries convening at a United Nations base to resolve a dispute over maritime borders that has suspended hydrocarbon exploration in the potentially gas-rich region.

Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said his government had agreed to postpone talks so both sides could have “a few weeks to better prepare the next round of talks”.

Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun has remained upbeat about the talks, however, saying yesterday during a meeting with the head of the US delegation thathe believes the difficulties can be resolved.

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