Hezbollah Denies Drone Launched Toward Israel

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Hezbollah denied any connection to Thursday's unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that breached Israeli airspace in late afternoon.

The group's satellite television stations, al-Manar and al-Mayadeen both aired statements denying its launch.

"Hezbollah denies sending any unmanned drone toward occupied Palestine," YNet quoted an al-Manar reporter. Al-Mayadeen, the station affiliated with Hezbollah spiritual leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, also referred to Israel as "occupied Palestine."

Israeli jets blew up the drone shortly after it breached its borders near the northern port city of Haifa.

"I view this attempt to cross into Israeli territory as a very serious issue," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after the IDF destroyed the intruder. "We will continue to do whatever is necessary to ensure the citizens of Israel remain safe."

Thursday's launch is Hezbollah's second into Israelis airspace. Last October, Israel Air Force jets shot down a UAV near the Mount Hebron region in the south.

Some analysts say Hezbollah launched the drill to divert attention from its participation in Syria's civil war. The Lebanese-based Iranian proxy wants reinforce its continued animosity toward Israel.

"Sending the drone was meant to show that [Hezbollah] is still prepared for the possibility of a confrontation on the southern [Israeli] front," YNet quoted an anonymous source speaking with Beirut-base NOW Lebanon

The source believes Hezbollah is not ready for a genuine confrontation with Israel at this time.

"Sending a drone is a calculated move that will not draw an Israeli response that Hezbollah is not ready for," he said. 

The IDF, which estimates that Hezbollah has about 100 Iranian-made drones, is continuing to look for the UAV's remnants off the coast of Haifa.

Last October, the IDF recovered pieces of the drone in the area around Mount Hebron, which Nasrallah admitted was Iranian-made.

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