(JERUSALEM) –- Israeli officials have deployed a Patriot surface-to-air anti-missile battery to northern Israel Monday, in an apparent response to the appearance of a mysterious drone in Israeli airspace over the weekend.
On Saturday, an Israel Air Force jet shot down an unmanned aerial drone over the Negev desert in southern Israel. Israeli officials said they believed the craft had originated in Lebanon and was controlled by the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.
According to the Israel Defense Force, the drone entered Israel from Mediterranean, flying over the Gaza Strip and then over the Negev. It was shot down south of the West Bank.
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon said it had not detected any drone flying from Lebanese airspace into Israeli airspace on Saturday. No group has yet made a direct claim of responsibility for the drone, though a television station associated with Hezbollah said that a Hezbollah aircraft had flown 100 kilometers into Israel and created “much tension.”
Hezbollah had not previously been known to possess drone technology.
State media in Iran, Hezbollah’s sponsor, said the incursion “exposed the weakness of Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile defense system” and quoted an official who said the system “does not work.” Israel’s “Iron Dome” system is meant to destroy incoming rockets and artillery shells.
According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, IDF officials said that the decision to place a Patriot battery in the northern city of Haifa, close to the Lebanese border, was not an emergency measure.
Patriot batteries have been deployed to Haifa in the past. During Israel’s war against Hezbollah in 2006, anti-missile batteries were brought to the city to fend off a barrage of Hezbollah rockets. Hezbollah fired about 3,700 rockets into northern Israel during the war, killing 44 Israeli civilians.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN