Signalling that Israel’s technological edge was fast eroding, Iran on Sunday said it had breached Israel’s dense radar cover by arming the Lebanese Hizbollah with a drone that had flown deep inside Israeli territory.
Iran’s “capabilities are very high and are at the disposal and service of Islamic nations”, said Defence Minister General Ahmad Vahidi, when quizzed over state television about the origins of the unmanned plane that Hizbollah had flown. “It is natural to use whatever we have at our disposal at the necessary time to defend the lands of the Islamic world,” the general added. “This move shows that Hizbollah is fully prepared ... and will respond to the Zionist [Israeli] regime.”
He said the drone which overflew Israel “shattered everything that was said about the Iron Dome system and it became clear that the Zionist regime cannot escape Muslim anger”. Israel had developed the Iron Dome system to counter missile and artillery attacks in the aftermath of the 2006 war with Hizbollah, which had made extensive use of rockets and missiles.
The website of Hizbollah’s Al Manar television quoted Sunday Times as saying that the drone “which was airborne for three hours before being intercepted by an F-16 jet, is believed to have transmitted pictures of preparations for Israel’s biggest joint military exercise with the U.S. army, which began last week, as well as ballistic missile sites, main airfields and, possibly, its nuclear reactor in Dimona”. The report said Iran had named the drone as Shahed-129, and it was operated by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, with the help of Hizbollah.
On Thursday, Al Manar quoted Hizbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah as saying: “The resistance in Lebanon sent an advanced surveillance drone from the Lebanese lands towards the sea. It drove it for hundreds of kilometres over the sea, then penetrated the enemy’s new measures, entered south Palestine, and flew over several significant locations, before being spotted by the Israeli air force.”