The incursion by an unmanned aircraft into Israeli airspace on Saturday exposed the weakness of Israeli air defenses, an Iranian military official was quoted as saying on Monday.
The Israel Air Force shot down a drone on Saturday after it crossed into southern Israel, the IDF said. It remained unclear where the aircraft had come from, but Hezbollah was though to be the main suspect.
Jamaluddin Aberoumand, deputy coordinator for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said the incident indicated that Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile defense system “does not work and lacks the necessary capacity,” Fars news agency reported.
Aberoumand attributed claims the drone was made by Iran to a”psychological operation” by Israel, but did not confirm or deny them. “The Zionist regime (Israel) has many enemies,” he added.
The Iron Dome system, jointly funded with the United States, is designed to shoot down short-range guerrilla rockets, not slow-flying aircraft. It intercepted more than 80 percent of the targets it engaged in March when nearly 300 rockets and mortars were fired at southern Israel, the Pentagon said at the time.
The IDF said Saturday that the drone arrived in Israel from the west after flying over the Mediterranean and the Gaza Strip. It said the incident is under investigation.
After the drone traveled east some 35 miles (56 km) across Israel’s southern Negev desert, the drone was shot down above a forest in an unpopulated area near the border with the West Bank, the IDF spokesperson said.
Several drones have been launched toward Israel in the past decade. During the 2006 Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah launched Iranian Ababil drones, capable of carrying explosives. The drones were intercepted and downed by IAF fighter jets.
Another drone penetrated Israeli airspace from Lebanon in 2004, however it was not identified by the IDF. The drone flew over Israel for several minutes, then left Israel’s airspace and crashed in the Mediterranean while on route to Lebanon. Following the incident the IAF was criticized for not identifying the drone before it entered Israel.
In 2010, the Israel Air Force shot down an apparently unmanned balloon that flew over the Dimona nuclear reactor.
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