The IDF confirmed Sunday afternoon that it had fired a Patriot missile at an unidentified object – most likely an unmanned drone – that had drifted into Israeli airspace from Syria. Loud explosions were heard over Tzefat, causing concern among residents, who inundated the municipality with phone calls asking what had happened.
The army said that the object drifted back into Syrian airspace. The Patriot exploded in the vicinity of the drone, and sent it drifting back into Syrian airspace. The Patriot did not directly hit the drone, the army said.
“The IDF’s defense and detection systems identified the threat in time and was able to deflect it before it entered Israeli airspace,” the IDF said. “The IDF will not allow the violation of Israeli sovereignty and invasion of its airspace, and will act to prevent any harm to Israeli citizens.”
In recent days, fighting has intensified near Israel’s border with Syria, as Bashar Assad’s forces, aided by the Russian military, move in on one of the last remaining areas of rebel-controlled territory in the country.
Last year, the IDF used the Patriot missile defense system on at least two occasions in order to shoot down incoming drones from Syria.