by Staff Writers
Jerusalem (XNA) Oct 11, 2012
A senior Israeli defense ministry official said Tuesday that a rogue drone Israel intercepted on Saturday had failed in its apparent mission.
Amos Gilad, director of policy and political-military affairs in the defense ministry, told Israel Radio that whoever sent the drone aimed to gather intelligence about Israel and tarnish the Israeli air force's image, and failed at both.
While Gilad added that Israel is still unaware of the identity of the entity which sent the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Channel 10 news revealed Monday that Iran-backed Lebanon-based Hezbollah may be responsible for launching the device.
The Shi'ite group reportedly possesses dozens of such aircraft.
On Saturday, the Israel Air Force (IAF) intercepted the UAV, which had penetrated into Israel's airspace from the Mediterranean Sea near the Gaza Strip. A fighter jet fired a missile at the drone, shooting it down over the northern Negev desert.
The aircraft, which was not carrying explosives, flew over West Bank settlements and military bases before it was downed, according to The Jerusalem Post.
It is unclear if the craft was guided by internal GPS navigation, satellite signals, or was under direct external radio control.
Gilad added that the IAF identified the UAV early on, and shot it down only after it overflew unpopulated, open ground.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who visited IAF bases in northern Israel on Tuesday, told officers they are serving in times of "uncertainty" in the area and are facing "difficult challenges."
Barak's visit came a day after the deployment of a new Patriot surface-to-air missile battery near the northern port city of Haifa on Monday, following the UAV's interception.
The Ha'aretz daily noted that there have been several similar drone overflights from Lebanon over the past decade, presumably launched by Hezbollah.
Source: Xinhua News Agency
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