Here are eight takeaways from one short security incident that ended up, b’chasdei Shamayim, in a good way.
One: No one needed this incident yesterday to know that Hizbullah and its Iranian advisors who train its members have unmanned aerial vehicles — and many at that. Such UAVs have already been sent into Israeli territory in the past, and more are surely in store. Over the last nine years, most of them have been downed before causing any damage. But two of them did succeed in penetrating Israeli airspace, even returning to Lebanon intact.
Two: Hizbullah denied yesterday that its people are the ones who sent the UAV into Israel. But that was the case the last time as well, half a year ago. First came the denial, followed by Hassan Nasrallah’s boasting that his units were responsible for the launch. It’s safe to assume that will happen again this time. Which brings us to the next point.
Three: This time, Nasrallah will have an interest in admitting it, and tying the incident to the prime minister’s flight; incidentally, he was in the air at the time and had to make an emergency landing. Despite the fact that there is no connection between the two, it’s safe to assume that there will be those who claim the UAV is connected to Netanyahu’s flight in the area, even though these are baseless claims.
Four: Indeed, why did they send the UAV? Israel collected many pieces from the aircraft that fell into the sea yesterday. These pieces will shed light on whether there were cameras aboard, which will indicate that it was dispatched for intelligence purposes, or if there were explosives, which will indicate that the UAV was on a terrorist mission-an unlikely scenario.
It seems most likely that it was dispatched to test the defense mechanisms around the Israeli natural gas drilling sites off the coast of Israel (although the Lebanese have their own gas reserves, and they are unlikely to want to arouse a gas war.) It is possible that it came to confirm recent reports that Israel has installed Patriot missile batteries in the Haifa area specifically to…shoot down UAVs.
Five: It is certainly possible that the UAV had cameras to be able to spy on Israel’s preparedness for a possible conflict with Hizbullah in the near future.
Six: It is most likely that Hizbullah launched the UAV to show all its critics in Lebanon and the Arab world — of which there are plenty — that Hassan Nasrallah’s people are not only busy fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces against the rebels, but are also continuing to “protect the Lebanese homeland.”
Seven: Israel was very cautious about this whole incident. Its fighter planes and helicopters that were scrambled against the UAV could have toppled it right at the beginning of its cruise. They were there, with all the abilities to harm it. But the Air Force commander did not hurry to give the order to shoot it down. First, he wanted to make sure that this was not an Israeli aircraft that had somehow gotten out of control of its handler. Then there was the fear that it was an American craft of the type they operate in the Middle East. Then they confirmed that it did not belong to the Turks. Only then did the commander give the order and the UAV was downed.
Eight: The operation was swift. One lone missile made a direct hit, in contrast to several missiles fired at the UAV that penetrated Israel half a year ago before being toppled. Apparently the lessons have been learned since then, which led to this craft being detected very early on in its flight. The rapid tests to identify its source as well as the fact that it was downed with precision with just one missile indicate that improvements in the preparedness of this kind have been made.