(AP) BEIRUT, Lebanon – Hezbollah on Monday released footage of an drone aircraft it had sent into Israeli airspace a day earlier, a flight which the United Nations said violated the U.N.-drawn border between Lebanon and Israel.
The militant Shiite Islamic group said it had sent the “Mirsad 1” drone flying over Jewish settlements at a low altitude for 20 minutes Sunday before it returned to its base in response to repeated Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace.
The flight is believed to be the first hostile aerial incursion from Lebanon into Israel since Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command members flew over in a hang glider in 1987 and killed six soldiers before being shot dead.
Information Minister Elie Firzli defended Hezbollah’s incursion, calling it “an act of resistance.” But he said the group had not told Lebanese authorities about its plans to fly the plane.
Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television on Monday showed the first pictures of what appeared to be a drone with two rear tails flying low over a banana grove just across from a fence marking the Lebanese-Israeli border before returning to Lebanon, the announcer said.
She added that the pictures from the 20-second film were the only images Hezbollah’s war media department permitted to be released. The footage revealed no details of the aircraft’s make. The drone was shown flying at fast speed and making a whizzing noise.
Hezbollah’s commander in southern Lebanon, Sheik Nabil Kaouk, said the new tactic has succeeded in its goal.
“The Israelis are living in a state of shock,” Kaouk told the private LBC TV station.
Asked about the Israeli army’s claim that the aircraft was Iranian-made, Kaouk said: “the Israelis are at a loss. We wish to keep it that way.”
It was unclear if Hezbollah’s first-ever drone was a homemade, makeshift aircraft or bought from abroad. Hezbollah, which is on the U.S. State Department list of terrorist organizations but recognized in Lebanon as a resistance group, did not describe its capabilities, say how many it had or provide further details.
The United Nations said Monday the flight was “a Lebanese air violation of the Blue Line,” referring to the U.N.-defined border between Lebanon and Israel.