JERUSALEM — The Israeli military said Saturday that it had shot down three unmanned Hezbollah-led aircrafts that were heading towards an area in which an Israeli gas station was installed.
The launch of this aircraft seemed to have been an effort by Hezbollah, to influence U.S.-brokered talks between Israel and Lebanon about their maritime boundary. This area is rich in natural gases.
The Israeli claimed that the planes were spotted very early and didn’t pose an imminent threat. However, Yair Lepid, Israel’s interim prime minister issued a strong warning.
” I stand before you now and tell everyone who seeks our destruction, Gaza to Tehran to Syria, to stop testing us.” Lapid stated in the first speech he made to the nation since assuming office Friday. “Israel is able to defend itself against any threat and against all enemies .”
Israel set up an oil rig earlier in the month at Karish, which Israel claims lies within its internationally recognised economic waters. Lebanon claims it’s in dispute waters.
Hezbollah released a brief statement to confirm that it had sent three drones unarmed towards the maritime dispute over the Karish field as part of a reconnaissance mission. It stated that the mission had been completed and that it received the message.
Israel is bitter foe that waged a long war during the summer of 2006.. Israel considers the Iranian-backed Lebanese group its most serious immediate threat, estimating it has some 150,000 rockets and missiles aimed at Israel.
The U.S. stated last week that Amos Hochstein, the mediator had spoken with both Israeli and Lebanese sides. The exchanges between both sides were constructive and helped to narrow differences. His office stated last week that the United States would continue to engage with all parties over the coming days and weeks.
The two nations, who have been at war ever since Israel was created in 1948, claim to some 860 sq km (330 miles) of Mediterranean Sea. As it struggles with its worst economic crisis, Lebanon plans to explore offshore gas resources.
On Saturday Najib Mikati, the Lebanese prime minister said that Lebanon had received “encouraging” information regarding its border dispute. However, he refused to speak further and stated that Beirut was waiting to receive the written official response to suggestions made by the Lebanese side .”
Associated Press reporters Fares Akram, Gaza Strip and Bassem Moroue, Beirut, contributed to this report.