BEIRUT (AP) — The Lebanese militant Hezbollah group said it shot down an Israeli drone over southern Lebanon early Monday, shortly after it crossed from Israel amid rising tensions along the border between the two countries in recent weeks.
A Hezbollah statement said the drone was downed with “suitable weapons” over the village of Ramieh and that the militants now have it. The statement did not elaborate further.
The Israeli military said a “drone on a routine mission in northern Israel fell,” without elaborating on what it was doing nor how it was downed. It said the drone was “simple” and that there was no risk of a breach of information if it fell into enemy hands. The military said the drone fell Sunday, not Monday, and the reason for the discrepancy was not clear.
Last month, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said his group would confront and shoot down any Israeli drones that enter Lebanese airspace, raising the potential for conflict amid heightened tensions.
Nasrallah spoke after authorities said one alleged Israeli drone crashed in a Hezbollah stronghold in southern Beirut, landing on the roof of a building that houses Hezbollah’s media office, and another exploded and crashed in a plot behind the building, causing material damage.
Last week, Israel and Hezbollah traded fire for the first time in years. Hezbollah launched anti-tank missiles at an Israeli armored vehicle near the border, causing no casualties. Israel retaliated with artillery fire into southern Lebanon.
Hezbollah said last week’s missile attack was retaliation for an Israeli airstrike near Damascus last month that killed two of its members. Israel said the attack thwarted an Iranian-orchestrated drone attack squad. Days after the airstrike, Hezbollah said two Israeli attack drones crash-landed in Beirut.
Israel and Hezbollah fought a monthlong war in 2006. Israel considers the group its most immediate threat.
Associated Press writer Tia Goldenberg in Jerusalem contributed to this report.